Loyola Jesuit Secondary School Breaks Ground in Malawi
Tags: Jesuit, Jesuit Father Peter Henriot, jesuits, Loyola Jesuit Secondary School, Malawi, Peter Henriot, Society of Jesus
Jesuits in Malawi recently broke ground on the new Loyola Jesuit Secondary School (LJSS) in Kasungu, a poor, rural area approximately 75 miles from the capital of Lilongwe. Set to open in 2014, LJSS will be a co-educational boarding school for 500 students. U.S.-born Jesuit Father Peter Henriot, who has been working for the past two decades in Africa, writes that when LJSS opens its doors it will truly be “an option for the poor.”
LJSS will be open to students of all faiths, but the school’s vision and mission will emphasize a Catholic environment and a Jesuit ethos, stressing a commitment to learning and to transform Malawian society, with the values of a faith that promotes justice.
Fr. Henriot, the school’s director of development, explained in a recent article that he was shocked to learn that fewer than 35% of children attend secondary school in Malawi and fewer than 40% of those children finish the four years with passing marks. Statistics for girls are even lower. Fr. Henriot and the Jesuits in Malawi hope to combat this educational deficit by making an explicit commitment to gender equality at LJSS, something that is especially lacking in this poor rural area. Women are expected to cook, clean the house, work in the fields and care for their siblings, to the detriment of their studies. If young girls wish to obtain an education, many of them must walk long distances to the nearest government secondary school and are often sexually assaulted on the way. Numerous female students then drop out due to early pregnancies. Fr. Henriot hopes that as a private boarding school, LJSS will address these problems for girls and provide them with the basic right of an education through a secondary-school level.
The school will operate as a “grant-aided” school in cooperation with the government of Malawi, which will pay salaries of teachers and staff. Fees will be lower and more accessible to families of lesser means.
Madam Eunice Kazembe, Minister for Education, Science, and Technology and the guest of honor at the groundbreaking of LJSS, commented on the need for good educational institutions to prepare Malawian youth to contribute to the future development of the country.
Also attending the groundbreaking ceremony were Jesuit Father Emmanuel Mumba, the Provincial of the Zambia-Malawi Province of the Society of Jesus; Archdiocese of Lilongwe Vicar General Msgr. Francis Sonkhani; Jeanine Jackson, U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Malawi; and other key officials from the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology as well as Kasungu government and traditional authority officials.