Jesuits have been known for educational expertise for many centuries in many parts of the world, with a commitment to excellence in pedagogy and all-around formation. This 450 year history certainly will influence the purpose and direction of Loyola Jesuit Secondary School. The Jesuits of Zambia-Malawi Province already have one excellent secondary school in southern Zambia – Canisius Secondary School has over 60 years of experience. In 2011, the Zambia-Malawi Province acquired an already operating school in Lusaka, Leopard’s Hill School. A private school of very good reputation, Leopard’s Hill Jesuit Secondary School will now be inspired by the Jesuit ethos of education. A co-educational school, it provides both boarding and day school facilities.
We will draw into the early start-up of our school Jesuits of good skills and strong commitment to work with other teachers to assure a school with an “ethos” of Christian values and humanistic qualities. Not all students will be Christian, so a good inter-religious spirit will be fostered.
A key element in this “ethos” will be what we Jesuits refer to as the formation of students to be “persons for others.” It might sound very idealistic – maybe even a bit unrealistic! – but it is a goal we surely will work toward. The “person for others” will know that her or his education is not simply for self-achievement or personal success. Our hope is that graduates of LJSS will have both the desire and the talent to make a difference for the future of Malawi by putting what they have learned at the service of authentic development of all the people of our beautiful country.
Of many elements that go in to educating “persons for others,” two are very central to the vision and mission of LJSS: “discernment” and “”faith and justice.”
First, in forming students, Jesuits traditionally have emphasised the need for good judgment in making important decisions. We call it “discernment,” the ability to weigh intellectually, emotionally and spiritually the various choices we are called to make in life, small choices as well as big choices. Do I become a teacher, do I marry early, do I return to work in my home village, do I serve my church in some fashion, do I start up my own business, do I go into politics, etc., etc. Discernment is a skill that helps me make the right decision at the right time, being conscious not just of myself but also of others. Everything we teach at LJSS should help form our students to be good and effective in the process of discernment!
Second, we Jesuits have seen as our mission in everything that we do “the service of faith and the promotion of justice.” This means that a true spiritual maturity – in whatever religious tradition one comes from – should be a central mark of all LJSS graduates. “Faith” shouldn’t be just a decoration on our campus! It should be nurtured in all that we do. But is shouldn’t be a faith that is merely inward or removed from the social realities around us. Justice is essential if Malawi is to develop, if all Malawians are to benefit from the riches of our country. So the faith of our students must be filled with the desires and abilities not simply to make a living but to make a difference!
The development and construction of Loyola Jesuit Secondary School are currently being led by Fr. Alojz Podgrajsek, S.J., and Fr. Peter Henriot, S.J., who bring extensive experience in Jesuit education and the Malawi community to the project.
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