ACSI Australia Update | March 2021

Christian Schooling: A Global Enterprise 

As Australians, we tend to enjoy our comfort zones! We feel relatively safe, secure and satisfied on this island continent bubble of ours, but the mission of Christ and the pre-requisites of a global mindset require us to be connected with the bigger picture of what is happening around the globe and to broaden our horizons. Our understanding of God and His redemptive mission is always enhanced when we hear of what He is doing through Christian education around the world.

For that reason, I am thrilled that all CSA schools are members of the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) and have access to all the benefits, and also the responsibilities, which that entails. In fact, CSA is known internationally as ACSI Australia. ACSI’s motto is ‘Stronger Together’ and indeed we are.

Through your membership of ACSI Australia,

  1. Be part of a global network of Christian schools
  2. Gain access to a wide range of benefits
  3. Engage your students in meaningful service learning partnerships

There are a raft of teacher resources, research links, community platforms and some provocative thought leadership content on the ACSI website.  May I particularly commend ACSI’s Flourishing Schools Research | Dr Lynn Swaner and Dr Matt Lee  which argues that ‘flourishing’ offers a more expansive paradigm for the purposes and processes of education.

International Leaders Summit (ILS)  |  ACSI Australia hosts Asia-Pacific

In November 2020, ACSI Australia hosted the first Asia-Pacific ILS via zoom. My predecessor Emma Wynn-Jones was instrumental in pulling together such an exciting event following the disappointment of the Auckland conference being cancelled due to travel restrictions.

Registrations surpassed our expectations as there were more than 130 delegates from 10 countries, including our first ever delegates from Nepal. The ILS 2020 theme was “Flourish: A vision for Christian schooling” with the CSA Flourish videos on Vision, Culture, Faith and Practice as the key resource. Feedback was so positive and such is the international demand for high-quality Christ-centred professional learning opportunities that an annual ILS is being considered.

ACSI Global Day of Prayer

Did you participate in the Global Day of Prayer on 23/24 Feb? You can still click on the Prayer Map requests to expand your horizons and praise God for the mission and vision of global Christ-centred education. The prayer theme this year is ‘FLOURISH’. Many Christian schools around the globe are struggling to do that because of pandemic restrictions, political oppression, poverty, shortage of trained teachers and other reasons. Pray for their faithful leaders and staff, that they will press on until they see the ‘something new springing forth’ (Isaiah 43:19) which will be a great encouragement to them.

Also pray for the Christian schools in ‘Western countries’ which have different challenges …  eg remaining authentic and biblically-based, developing and valuing holistic programs which incorporate academic excellence and faith formation, more subtle forms of political and cultural oppression.

Academic Excellence in Christian Schools: Necessary but Not Sufficient

Take a look at my recent blog which contends that academic excellence is necessary but not sufficient in a flourishing Christian school. The Service Learning companion to the CSA Christian Studies Program is a valuable resource for schools wishing to explore this idea further. You may also like to connect with school leaders who very much value academic excellence as well as demonstrate a non-negotiable  commitment to service and mission in the Christian school context. For example, St Andrews Christian College in Victoria has long been committed to implementing its Global Horizons Program. The College now has a Mission Service Learning Coordinator on staff and even a Mission Service Learning Captain amongst the student cohort. Catriona Wansbrough, SACC Principal, says, “Although known for our academic rigour, we are a school community that …. offers an education rich in hope and purpose that delivers more than just good results.” 

To converse more about next steps for your school around whole-school integration of mission or service opportunities feel free to reach with an email: Sandra Scott.

Opportunities for School Partnerships and Service

Many CSA schools have global connections already but here are some new opportunities for connection which would be of great benefit to the expansion and flourishing of Christian schooling in the Asian region. Contact me if your school would like to consider partnering with a Christian school in the Asia-Pacific region by, for example:

  •  paying a struggling school’s ACSI membership fee (usually USD50)
  • sponsoring or providing professional development opportunities via zoom for school leaders and teachers (eg we heard of a Principal in Nepal who did not participate in the 2020 ILS due to inability to pay the USD10 registration fee)
  • praying regularly and receiving school updates to contribute to a sense of global community (eg Christian schools in Pakistan are very isolated from the world)
  • initiating a partner school agreement in whatever form is mutually agreeable (eg a large international Christian school in Hong Kong is keen to expand its global connections)
  • providing much-needed resources (eg to support schools with a ministry to impoverished children and families)

Around the Globe | A Selection of Updates

  In Nepal, there are schools which cannot legally be classified as ‘Christian schools’ but which  operate as such.  Somang Academy is a nonprofit, independent educational institute based in Thecho, Nepal. The school primarily wants to serve needy and deprived children by providing high-quality education till grade-12 and if possible bachelors degrees in future. The school equips these children with social norms and values while also welcoming students from established communities and families. The Principal says, “Currently, we are serving 350 students from almost all parts of Nepal. We are proving scholarships to 40% of the total students as they come from marginalized communities”.
  There are a number of ACSI schools and school systems in Pakistan and all have been hard hit by the pandemic. Schools have been closed for months at a time and teachers need to be paid despite parents losing employment and being unable to continue paying fees. Many Christians in Pakistan are poor and oppressed. One school leader in Rawalpindi writes, “Dear Sandra and ACSI friends, Greetings in the precious name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I praise God we all are well. Corona is spreading very fast. Please keep us in your prayers that God may provide according to the need.
  ACSI India Director Mark Taylor writes, “We are a source of good information to our member schools in India during the continued lockdown. As a service to schools which are really tight on finances we are offering webinars at no cost from ACSI India on Saturday mornings (India time).  Is there anyone from CSA/ACSI Australia schools who will be able to speak at one of our Saturday Webinars – the topics are below. Thank you SO much.”  Mark requests help to facilitate webinars in a range of topics around pedagogy, assessment and online teaching / learning.
  CSA has a close relationship with ACSI Indonesia on a number of levels. As in much of the world, many Indonesian schools and universities have been engaged in online teaching and learning for almost a year, but a lack of appropriate technology in many homes is a huge impediment.  The COVID-19 virus has recently infected many of the national staff team and their families. ACSI Indonesia Director Agus Susanto sent an update on 16/2/21, “None has severe symptoms, thank God, because we are young. Still we need to take care of our bodies as His temples. Thank you for your prayers and encouragement”.

Who is ACSI?

The Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) exists to strengthen Christian schools and equip Christian educators worldwide as they prepare students academically and inspire them to become devoted followers of Jesus Christ.

ACSI Australia is the global expression of Christian Schools Australia as we connect with schools across Asia-Pacific and the world for mutual benefit and transformative change. We are seeking genuine partnerships with Christian schools and organisations in order to unify the body of believers and see people transformed by the love of Christ.

We envision Christian schools that are ‘lighthouses’, not ‘clubhouses’, working to bless others out of the abundant blessing we have received, and working together as one global body of Christ.