World Catholic Education Day Date in the current year: May 9, 2024

World Catholic Education Day World Catholic Education Day, also known as World Day of Catholic Education, is observed annually 40 days after Easter, coinciding with the Feast of Ascension. It was established in 2022 by the Congress of the International Office of Catholic Education (Office International de l’Enseignement Catholique, OIEC).

The global system of Catholic education consists of educational institutions that are administered in association with the Catholic church: pre-primary, primary and secondary schools, higher education institutions (universities, colleges, etc.), and seminaries.

Catholic educational institutions (except for seminaries) are generally non-denominational, which means that they accept students regardless of their religion, provided they meet the admission or enrollment requirements. However, non-Catholic students are expected to obey the school rules and regulations, as well as participate in or be exempted from required activities, especially those of religious nature.

The Catholic church operates the world’s largest system of non-public parochial schools. According to a 2020 report by Global Catholic Education Reports, 68 million students were enrolled in Catholic schools and higher education institutions, including 34.6 million at the primary school level. The top five countries by enrollment in Catholic schools were low or lower-middle income countries: DR Congo, India, Kenya, Malawi, and Uganda.

Catholic schools have been praised for offering educational services to the poor and disadvantaged, as well as for providing educational opportunities for girls. In developed countries such as Australia and the United States, there is evidence that attendance and education performance are higher in Catholic schools than in public schools. However, they have also been criticized for going against the principle of secularism and continuing colonial cultural dominance in former colonies.

The International Office of Catholic Education (OIEC) is an international Catholic organization that promotes Catholic education and advocates for the effective exercise of freedom of education in the countries in which it is present. It is officially recognized by the Holy See, works closely with the Dicastery for Culture and Education, and has consultative status with several international organizations, including the Untied Nations, UNESCO, and the Council of Europe.

The OIEC created World Catholic Education Day in 2002 to reflect on, recognize and celebrate Catholic education, raise awareness of the contribution that Catholic educational institutions make to global development and the promotion of a culture of peace and fraternity, and express gratitude for the commitment of Catholic educators around the globe.

World Catholic Education Day was forgotten for some time after its establishment, but the OIEC, in collaboration with other Catholic organizations, relaunched it in 2021 for its 20th anniversary. The holiday is marked by Catholic educational institutions and other organizations around the globe with special prayers, seminars and webinars, speeches, lectures, presentations, and other relevant events and activities.

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