On October 11 of this year, “International Day of the Girl Child” was celebrated.  And around that day, Malala Yousafzai, a 17 year old Pakistani girl, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition for her efforts – very dangerous efforts – to encourage girls to stay in school.

So it is understandable that we Jesuits would be asking ourselves again:  “Why are we making Loyola Jesuit Secondary School (LJSS) to be a co-educational school right from the start?”  Surely this is a huge test for us here in Malawi!  Can we attract enough young women in an environment that often discourages schooling for girls?

Well, 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.”

Add to those thoughts the wise words of Malala Yousafzai:

“We cannot succeed when half of us are held back….  One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world.”

The Malawi Government acknowledges that today only 27% of the girls in the country finish primary school, and only half of the young women between 15 and 24 are literate.

When LJSS opens in September of next year, we can’t change that entire situation in Malawi.  But through our co-educational commitment and by our teaching about gender equality and the need to promote recognition of women’s dignity, we can at least contribute to the work to make the desirable changes in the lives of the country’s girls.  And this surely will make the necessary differences in the life of the country.

Please  join us in this effort – go to our website (www.loyola-malawi.org) and learn more about what we are doing, and then do push that “Support us” button on the website!

And for more on the critical importance of girls’ education go to the link called “Stories of Hope” on the LJSS home page of www.loyola-malawi.org .

Thank you very much!




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