Social Economic and Development Programme
The Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection is a research, education and advocacy team that promotes study and action on issues linking Christian Faith and social justice in Zambia and Malawi. JCTR began in 1988 as a project of the Zambia-Malawi Province of the Society of Jesus and is similar in orientation to other Jesuit social centers around the world.
To foster from a faith-inspired perspective a critical understanding of current issues. Guided by the the Church's Social Teaching that emphasises dignity in community, our mission is to generate activities for the promotion of the fullness of human life through research, education, advocacy and consultation. Cooperating widely with other groups, our Jesuit sponsorship directs us to a special concern for the poor and assures an international linkage to our efforts. We aim to promote an inculturated faith, gender equality and empowerment of local communities in the work of justice and peace and the integrity of creation.
What do we do?
The Centre engages in research on key social issues like cost of living, social implications of debt servicing, accessibility of healthcare and education, and integrity of local democracy. We put forward our findings in publications, workshops and conferences, and media presentations. We join in advocacy campaigns by mobilising the public through local-based teams around Zambia and by cooperating with other civil society groups. Our current programmes include:
For several years, JCTR has carried out in Lusaka a monthly survey of prices of basic family necessities (e.g. food housing, etc.) comparing the finding with take-home wages. The survey now includes urban areas of Livingstone, Kabwe, Ndola, Luanshya, Kitwe, Kasama, Mongu, Solwezi, Monze, Chipata and just recently Mpika and Mansa . The survey has further expanded to include six rural areas which are Mufumbwe, Masaiti, Malama, Shangombo, Kazungula, and Chongwe. This "Basic Needs Basket" is widely used by civil society organisations, labour unions, etc., to promote better living conditions. It is now done in 12 other towns and 5 rural areas. We have also done studies on the working conditions of teachers, cost sharing in education and accessibility of health services.
The JCTR builds awareness and more effective utilization of the riches of the social teaching of the church. Our aim is to link faith and justice in a way that focuses the energies of various communities on transforming society. Through the value added dimension of equal participation, integral development, solidarity, common good, love, justice and a special concern for the poor. We promote political ethics and constitutional respect for Human rights.
The JCTR presents its research and educational materials through a quarterly Bulletin, a quarterly Policy Brief, a regular updated website, special reports, wide spread media coverage in local newspapers, radio and television and articles in popular and scholarly publications. These are distributed widely across the country through the the JCTR Outreach teams.
The JCTR hosted Jubilee-Zambia,- which aimed at securing total debt cancellation and a just international trade system in order to facilitate poverty reduction. There has been significant debt cancellation for Zambia, as such our focus is now on ensuring use of freed resources for equitable poverty eradication, but also strong legal reform of the debt management process. The campaign has strong links and networks at community, national and international levels, including a very active provincial outreach programme.
The JCTR manages two task forces that involve interested individuals beyond our own staff. The first addresses issues on inculturation, and the second deals with the integrity of creation/environmental issues.
The Context in which we work
JCTR serves two African countries, Malawi and Zambia, though most of our current projects are located in Zambia. Both are peaceful countries, rich in natural and human resources and united by a strong desire to improve the living conditions of all.