Since December 2019, CoGREE has a sixth member organisation: the European Committee for Catholic Education (CEEC). CEEC is a meeting-point for the heads of European Catholic networks and a study and information centre. Moreover, it plays the role of a promoter of free Catholic education towards the various European bodies. CEEC represents about 35,000 schools and more than 8,5 million pupils. It also functions as regional secretariat of the worldwide Catholic International Education Office (OIEC)
Its General Secretary, Guy Selderslagh, who is also the representative in CoGREE, agreed to an interview to present his organisation and tell more about his expectations towards the cooperation among CoGREE members.
CoGREE: Could you give a quick overview of how CEEC is working?
Guy Selderslagh: CEEC is located in Brussels, Belgium. The association has its office in the building of the SeGEC, the Belgian French-speaking secretariat of Catholic Education. Currently, the association does not employ full-time staff. The people who work in the secretariat are employed part-time under an agreement with the Belgian secretariat. As Secretary General of CEEC, I also remain director of a service within this Belgian secretariat. Similarly, my assistant Géraldine Vallée is also working part-time for CEEC.
CEEC has 29 full members, from 27 Central, Eastern and Western European countries: Albania, Austria, Belgium (Flemish and French speaking), Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, England & Wales, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland (Eire), Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Scotland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Ukraine. Moreover, UNAEC–Europe (European Union of Former Students of Catholic Teaching) is adherent member of the association. All those members compose the General Assembly and some of them are actively represented in the Executive Board, which is the organisational organ of the CEEC: current President is Don José María ALVIRA DUPLÁ, Secretary General of Escuelas Católicas (Spain), Vice-President is Deacon Titus FRANKEMÖLLE, President of the Nederlandse Katholieke Schoolraad (the Netherlands), and Treasurer is Mr. Paul MEANY delegated by the Association of Management of Catholic Secondary Schools & Joint Managerial Body (Republic of Ireland). France, Belgium and Slovenia are members of the Executive Board as well.
CoGREE: What are your main activities?
Guy Selderslagh: CEEC’s main activities always tend to support and promote the interests of Catholic education, with a special attention to developments concerning freedom of education in the various member countries. Exchange between members, particularly on the occasion of the two annual General Assemblies, organisation of surveys on important topics regarding Catholic schools’ issues, organisation of symposiums and conferences… all these activities contribute to develop our work at the service of education.
CoGREE: In these challenging times for Europe which topics do you judge as the most important and urgent for your work?
Guy Selderslagh: At a time when Europe is facing major challenges, we believe as a Catholic Education that one of the major themes on which we must work concerns intercultural and interreligious issues, which are also linked to the very current migration issue. Our reflection on this topic was initiated about five years ago through a survey launched among the CEEC’s member countries. The results of this survey were then developed and enriched by the symposium organised last March in Brussels (the Acts of which can be ordered via firstname.lastname@example.org).
Facing the new situation in our schools, namely the change in our school population, good and adequate teacher training is more important than ever. This is the working theme on which the CEEC will focus in the following months.
And, of course, another subject to be constantly monitored, especially in the difficult times of democracy in some of our member countries, is the situation of freedom of education and the right to education.
CoGREE: What do you hope to achieve by working together with CoGREE members?
Guy Selderslagh: Working with CoGREE will give CEEC the opportunity to exchange with other associations on common issues, to be informed on how others are facing the same types of problems. Sharing experiences is a definite enrichment for the work of an association like ours.
CoGREE: If everything were possible (in terms of finances, staff etc.) what would be your dream project you would like to accomplish with the CoGREE group?
Guy Selderslagh: To manage to set up, through the sharing of experiences, common projects at European level, among others in the field of training, support for Christian identity while fighting for openness and against any form of extremism.