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St Paul Primary School in Zambia

 

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12/04/2010: Zambia

 

StSt Paul Primary School in Zambia is situated 30 kilometres away from Kabwe town. The first headmaster when it started in 1998 was Br. Norbert Mwila who served in that capacity until 2005 when he was asked to follow the formators course in Nairobi, Kenya. As the chewa say, “ Mwana wa m ngóna sakulira dziwe limodzi” literally meaning the child of the crocodile does not grow in one water reservoir , he had to change from a school headmaster to a Master of Postulants for a year in 2006. Within a short time, there was another gap in the novitiate which needed to be filled immediately. He qualified to be the right candidate in the capacity of Master of Novices from 2007 up to now. In the school, he is still known as the headmaster because in zambia once one is the headmaster he does not lose his seat until retirment. Which means the headmistress and her deputy are up to now acting administrators. I am sure he might have to resign eventually so that the two assume full responsibility of their offices. They are the two main poles of the school now supported by other lay colleagues. Those who had worked in Zambia before would know that St Paul’s Secondary School has been one of the top schools in Zambia and attracted the boys from urban centres. Brothers thought for a while whether they were true to what Vicar General Cholleton wrote when he said, “The education of the rich class is generally entrusted to the De la Salle Brothers. Every one knows the good they do in the towns where they are established. But, in accordance with the rules of the institute, they go less than three together into the places that require them, and since the cost of establishing them is considerable, it follows that most of the parishes, especially those in the country areas, cannot enjoy the benefit of this education on account of insufficient resources. To over come this problem there has been formed a congregation of teachers under the name of Little Brothers of Mary. They teach catechism, Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic, the principles of French Grammar, Church Music and Sacred History. They follow in their teaching the method of the De La Salle Brothers.” 29th July 1824, Prospectus of the Congregation of the Little Brothers of Mary. Although it is located in the bush, some distance away from Kabwe town , most of the pupils that filled our school were from the cities. Brothers had to sit down and work out a strategy that would see the pupils from the rural surrounding area benefit from their school. They felt that, that was the only way they could be faithful to Champagnat´s dream. Rural area for Marists.

The smiling faces you see in front of the two administrators are grade seven pupils. In Zambia primary school ends at grade seven and they are candidates for form one next year.

For us Marists, education is the powerful means for forming and transforming the minds and hearts of children and young people. The teachers are following Champagnat to the letter, “We must live in the midst of children and we must have them with us over a long period.”He always encouraged the brothers. He even urged them to pray for those they were called to serve, to love them and to earn their respect. He many times said,” To educate children we have to love them, and love them all equally.” This may sound easy to say than done. How many of us would love only those best and genius students in our classroom? This is a challenge to all of us, to love all equally. Once the slow learners discover that they are sidelined, shall we be surprised when they mention segregation? I see that to love them all equally will require extra effort on our part, Jesus who loves all equally can give us the best example to emulate and no one should call a pupil dull.
Seeing the lay teachers taking the lead in the school administration, we may say like John the Baptiste, “They must increase and we must decrease.” Isn´t it the case now in most of the first world countries that our schools are directly run by the lay colleagues? I would imagine that there are some other schools in the Marist world where the lay people are doing an excellent work in administration. We have to give them a pat at the back and tell them, “ Parabens!”, Our role will be to encourage them and give them moral support.
Bravo our lay confreres at St.Paul´s Primary School in Zambia! Remember these precious beloved friends of Jesus will take you as fathers and mothers who loved and cared for them. We join you in praying for them. As Br. Luis said at Marlhes, they will be copies of you. As you teach them secular subjects, do not forget to pump into them the habits of love of their faith and run away from indoctrination which has no place in our pluralistic society. For this you will have to be the first examples in being loyal to your faith. When they see you at prayer, they will discover the value of God and make it their own. God bless your good work.

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Simeon Banda, fms, Matola, Mozambique.

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