October 17, 2016 — Loyola Jesuit Secondary School (LJSS) in Kasungu, Malawi, is celebrating the start of its second school year after a successful inaugural year. In a country where many youth, especially girls, don’t have access to a secondary education, 120 ninth grade students — 60 boys and 60 girls — completed the 2015-2016 school year.
A school Mass celebrated for all students and staff.
“Right now, less than 35 percent of all Malawi children attend secondary school — and less than 25 percent of young women do,” said Jesuit Father Peter Henriot, development director of the school.
Father Simon Makuru, SJ, a Malawian Jesuit, serves as head teacher, and Father Ken Simalalo, SJ, a Zambian Jesuit, is a chaplain and teacher. The school plans for more Jesuits to join the team as LJSS adds a new class of students each year over the next few years.
The school provides more than just classes; it also offers students extracurricular activities and teaches Ignatian values, with the aim of forming “women and men with and for others.”
As a commitment to these Jesuit values, LJSS requires both students and staff to perform community service, including tutoring students in primary schools, providing teacher enrichment programs and assisting with local ecological initiatives.
New ninth grade students taking a break from class during the first week of school, joined by Fr. Peter Henriot, SJ, director of development.
“It’s a very poor country, but a country with great potential,” said Fr. Henriot. “We Jesuits are trying to bring out that great potential with a secondary school in a very poor area, where most of the kids don’t go to school. You’ll never develop a country without the education of youth.”
In its second year, the school’s campus is expanding, with construction underway on a chapel, clinic and Jesuit residence.
The girls’ volleyball team
LJSS is working to be environmentally sensitive and ecologically sound in its construction and instruction, said Fr. Henriot. “One very important ecological effort has been the use of soil based blocks throughout construction, rather than kiln burnt bricks, in the building of the walls of the many structures on the campus of LJSS. Bricks that are molded of clay and then cooked in simple brick ovens for many days require a lot of trees to be cut down and used for the fires.”
Fr. Henriot said the school is also pursuing solar alternatives, such as solar-powered water heaters for the showers, as well as other initiatives.
Loyola Jesuit Secondary School is benefitting not only the students, but the larger community as well. The construction projects and maintenance of the school provide significant employment opportunities for residents from the Kasungu area. Additionally, 25 percent of LJSS’ boarding school spaces have been specially allotted for local girls and boys from Kasungu.
The school’s first year had “many challenges, many ups and downs and many positive outcomes,” according to Fr. Henriot. “Please keep us in thoughts and prayers.”
For more information on LJSS or to offer support, visit www.loyola-malawi.org.