First boarders start at Malawi school

The Jesuits in Malawi have thanked donors in Britain for helping them construct a secondary school which will eventually accommodate 550 children. They say the new educational facility in Kasungu, which welcomed its first class this term, will not only provide them with a good teaching experience but will also significantly improve their lives.

“Just over two years ago, buildings began sprouting up from an empty field in Kasungu,” writes Fr Peter J. Henriot SJ, the Director of Development at Loyola Jesuit Secondary School (LJSS). “Today, we are moving closer to a grand opening in September 2015, with our first class of 144 young women and men boarders starting in Form One (Grade Nine).  Solid and attractive construction will provide a good learning environment for youth preparing not just to make a living but to make a difference.”

Although a poor country - 75% of Malawians live below the poverty line - Malawi has great potential.  The key to capitalising on its strengths is simple, say the Jesuits who work there: educate the youth, particularly the poor. While the country is peaceful and is blessed with many resources, Malawi’s education system is woefully inadequate. Only 35% of children receive secondary education and only 44% of those graduate.

“It’s been a busy day every day in Kasungu, Malawi, since ground-breaking took place in September 2012 for Loyola Jesuit Secondary School,” says Fr Henriot.  “In the past 20 months, the empty 22 hectare (50 acre) plot on the outskirts of Kasungu municipality has blossomed with the many buildings that make up Phase One of LJSS construction.”  

PriorityPlans of LJSS in Malawi

In supporting the venture, the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Fr Adolfo Nicolás SJ, wrote: “It is my sincere hope that this important educational venture will receive support in many ways from throughout the Society and the wider group of our friends, since it is a concrete manifestation of the Society’s commitment to make Africa a priority. It has been said that one of the best ways to serve the present is to give hope for the future. I am confident that your efforts to establish Loyola Jesuit Secondary School will be effectively serving the needs of the present youth who are surely the future hope of Malawi.”

One of most satisfying features of the building of LJSS over the past two years, according to Fr Henriot, has been the fact that more than 200 local residents have been employed in the construction process. “They have been part of the wonderful process of turning an empty field into an educational dreamland ...They’ve been clearing land, digging foundations, mixing cement, moulding blocks, raising walls, painting structures, and more – plenty of good work!  And that work has meant both ‘earn and learn’: making good salaries and gaining new skills.”

The construction of Loyola Jesuit Secondary School in Malawi has been part-funded by the Jesuit in Britain through Jesuit Missions and the sale of the St Cuthbert’s Gospel.

“How could we Jesuits do this?” asks Fr Henriot. “Because of you – our many friends in Malawi, around Africa and around the world!  Please continue to make possible the dreams of our 'learners' (the happy phrase used to describe students in Malawi!) by contributing to on-going construction and educational needs. Zikomo – thank you!”