Why is it important that Loyola Jesuit Secondary School (LJSS) is co-educational?


A few Form One girls celebrate their entering LJSS

When we Jesuits of the Zambia-Malawi Province (ZAM) were doing the initial planning for LJSS almost ten years ago, an important question had to be faced:  would girls be admitted to this new school in Malawi?  Or would it be exclusively for boys, as are many Jesuit schools around the world? In fact, only one of the two Jesuit secondary schools in Zambia is co-educational, St. Ignatius College in Lusaka.    Canisius Secondary School in Chikuni in southern Zambia, founded in the late 1940s, continues to this day to be only for boys.

girls in hostel

Happy girls show their appreciation of co-education!

Some arguments were made that we Jesuits would do better in education by maintaining an all-boys school.  Two reasons were given for this position: 1) boys would be distracted from serious studies by girls in the classrooms and around the campus; and 2) girls would learn more easily if they felt they were not competing with boys for high marks.

Well, when LJSS opened doors in September 2015 for Form One (first year secondary students), 62 boys joined 61 girls to make up the first class.  The decision to make our new school co-educational from the start was based on good argument, wide experience, and challenging ethics.

A chance to share

“Educate a girl, educate a nation!”

When a girl is educated, her equal dignity is recognized.  She is more likely to marry at a more mature age, and to have fewer children.  More of those children will live, and they will themselves attend school.  She and her family are likely to take a more active part in the community.

 In an earlier blog here on our LJSS webpage (October 2014), we emphasized:

…. there are two solid reasons to be sure that LJSS is co-educational from the start.   First, we want to recognise the God-given dignity and equality of women – something we know from the social teaching of our Church and from some wonderful examples of our Founder, Jesus Christ.  Second, we recognise the truth of what an official in Malawi’s Ministry of Education said on the recent International Day of the Girl Child:

 “Education is key to fighting poverty.  Educating girls is the single most powerful investment for development as it is believed that when a girl gets educated, the whole nation gets educated.” 

Thandiwe, like many of her peers, carries water daily for her family.

Working at home rather than learning at school — with consequences!

 As LJSS heads toward closing our second year and prepares for the third year, we now have an enrollment with very good gender balance: 111 girls and 110 boys.  We hope that we can keep that good balance in the days ahead.  Yes, it is true that there are some cultural prejudices that need to be overcome: the feeling among some elders and others that girls don’t really need to be educated: “They are just going to be married and stay close by in the village!”  But that view is increasingly challenged.  And both girls and boys are benefitting from a more accurate explanation of feminine roles in development!

 Girls unpacking

Happy girls checking into good hostels (dormitories)

Many generous donors who have helped us get LJSS underway through their contributions, large and small, have specifically designated help for girls whose families or guardians cannot meet the tuition fees, as small as they are.  We place all such donations in a special endowment fund called “Loyola Learners Assistance Programme.”   This fund is non-discriminatory, aiding both girls and boys.

                              If you would like to assist our LJSS learners who could use some help,                               please go to the “Donate” page here on our website.  Thank you!




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