.- Leaders of various Catholic and Protestant schools and of pro-family associations announced they will be organizing a march in defense of the right to receive religious instruction, after a national congress on education declared the country’s educational system would be secularized.
Bishop Walter Perez of Potosi denounced the government for forcing implementation of its policies on education and health care. “We are going to continue teaching religion in our schools,” he said.
In Santa Cruz, Javier Soria, leader of a parental school council, emphasized that parents have the right to decide what kind of education their children should receive. “The State is trying to go above the heads of parents,” he said, adding that his group would not put up with attacks against the religious identity families choose to bestow on their children. He announced that a march to “defend the Christian faith, its principles, and values” would be held on July 29th.
The director of the Marist school in Santa Cruz, Jose Antonio Lopez, told reporters that Catholics schools are founded upon education and imbued with the principles of the Gospel. “Either in the media or whatever way we can, we are going to speak the truth, that the Church is an entity in service to society and that in Santa Cruz 85% declare themselves to be Catholic,” he stated.
Last Friday the National Education Congress approved a proposal that would secularize the country’s schools, despite pledges by Bolivia’s Minister of Education that religious instruction would be upheld. Representatives from the Catholic Church and from other institutions walked out of the meeting denouncing it as a simple attempt by the government to impose its policies.