[ SOCIAL AND PASTORAL BULLETIN No.151 / Oct 15, 2009 ]

Abe Keita (Franciscan priest)  
The seminars on human rights education sponsored by all Christian Japanese Schools with the participation of school teachers and students began in Osaka in the summer of 1989. This year they celebrate their 20th anniversary.
The continuation of the seminars has offered occasions to select new themes, like sexual discrimination, gender minority, etc. according to the changing times. Again, with the help of group discussions and on-the-field testimonies, the participants share their opinions and learn how to apply those new themes to school education. Such seminars have provided new vision and a number of methods for reflecting on the meaning of human dignity and how to transmit it at the school level, not only in Christian schools but also in ordinary public education.
One of the good results of the seminars is the published reports and newsletters that are regularly sent to many schools all over Japan. These publications inform educators about experiments conducted concerning education on human rights. Such records are very valuable material for human rights education.
I first participated in those seminars in August 1994, at the 5th school gathering in Hiroshima. I was then teaching Religion at a mission school in Sapporo and I wondered how to transmit the Christian message in modern ways to my students.
I was quite concerned about the matter when I happened to meet a friend from Osaka who recommended the seminars to me. He had attended them the previous year and felt quite happy about them. So I decided to participate too.
The whole public gathering had a great impact: the field studies, the opening liturgy, the presentation of topics, group discussions and the closing liturgy with a speech and some songs by Ms. Shintani Noriko. This will not possibly be repeated. The content of the seminar was rich and made a great impact on the participants. Again, the eagerness of the participants who had gathered from all over the country, the lecturers and persons presenting the various topics made an impression that remains with me even now. The rich content of the seminars still remains relevant after 20 years.
On the other hand, the basic theme of the seminars, human rights, transcends the division of Christian sects and gives such public gatherings a special meaning from an ecumenical point of view. The official name of the seminars has also been used in statements and public appeals.
I hope that on the occasion of the 20th anniversary such seminars will, in the future, continue to give new insights and opportunities to educators and others concerned.
=====     Copyright ®1997-2007 Jesuit Social Center All Rights Reserved     =====