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Marist educators: defenders of children’s rights



Session of pedagogical formation for teachers

15/10/2013: Madagascar

With the aim of improving the education of children and youth in the Marist schools of Madagascar, a session of pedagogical formation for teachers always begins each school year. This year, the session was held in the Collège La Providence in Antsirabe from 23 to 25 September. The  participants were teachers from the two Marist schools of Antsirabe : the Collège Immaculée Conception and the private Lycée Saint Joseph. The presenters were the Marist Brothers MAMINIAINA Michel and TIANA Michel. The topics treated during the session were Marist pedagogy and the rights of children. The first two days, the pedagogy and the mission of Catholic educators were at the heart of the formation. The presenter began with the definition of Marist pedagogy by quoting the message of Father Champagnat, the Founder of the Institute : « To bring up children well, you first have to love them… » This pedagogy envisages especially the most vulnerable and disadvantaged young people. From this fact, it is centred above all on love and presence in order to form a good Christian and a virtuous citizen. In other words, to promote the child on all planes : moral, physical and intellectual. The participants then had the opportunity themselves to explain their ideas on the topic and share and exchange their experiences. Numerous suggestions and solutions emerged from these times of sharing. The showing of sequences of slides was a big help towards the understanding and the transmission of the messages.

The third day, Wednesday 25 September, Br Tiana Michel took up the baton. His intervention was centred on children’s rights which go hand in hand with Marist pedagogy. In his introduction, he appealed for the protection of the child by taking the example of the Blessed Virgin and Saint Joseph on the flight into Egypt (Mt 2 ; 13-15). Then he continued with the presentation of the objectives of the formation : « To further the knowledge and comprehension of the convention relative to the  rights of children ;  to make the establishment aware of the policy of the institute as regards the  protection of the child ». Since the mission of Marist educators is to promote the child on all planes, the teacher has always to take into consideration the higher interests of the child in all his actions and decisions. In effect, this demands much love, understanding and patience. After these explanations, Fr Tiana Michel continued his exposition through the policy of the Institute on the  protection of the child : a policy applied in the Marist schools of the world. Throughout the conference, the presenter did not cease reminding the teachers of their duties and obligations towards the pupils. A teacher should be dignified and respectful before the children.

Certain questions about corporal punishment raised much discussion. In fact, always careful of their profession, the participants did not hesitate to express their concerns. The question often asked was : what to do with a difficult and stubborn pupil ? The teacher’s position is very delicate : corporal punishment is forbidden while sometimes the child needs correction to return to the right way. However, Br Tiana Michel’s response was clear : violence does not resolve the problem, it only makes it worse. The solution is to regulate in a calm and civilised way and especially to encourage  dialogue between the learner and the teacher. Moreover, for education to bear fruit, teaching should be done in an harmonious atmosphere, where love and confidence reign.

Finally, the application of this convention on the protection of the child necessitates a lot of effort on the part of the teacher. There is still a long way to go ; let us ask the help of the Holy Spirit during the exercise and carrying out of our mission as Marist educators. Let us also be present and  patient for the teacher’s task is at once difficult and delicate. Let us try to see the world through the children’s eyes, in order to construct a better world. From now on, as Marist educators, become defenders of the rights of the child.


RAKOTONDRANAIVO Elia, teacher at St Joseph, lay Marist

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