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24 November

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Africa Marist Conference



Meeting of the Superiors of the Administrative Units of Africa

06/09/2014: Kenya

Marist leaders of Africa met in Nairobi from 23 to 26 July 2014 to learn, reflect and discuss on the project "New models of animation, government and management," considered and analysed from Africa's point of view. However, that was not it... Having all the Superiors and the Councils of the five Administrative Units of Marist Africa gathered together was too important an opportunity not to add a day dedicated to three themes, strongly connected with the previous one:

-           Some basic premises to build a plan for Africa AUs economic sustainability;

-           A formation plan for all African Marist School leaders;

-          New ways for collaboration with agencies and organizations interested in the development of peoples and international cooperation.

The first theme was introduced by Brother Victor Preciado, Econome General, and then illustrated in two phases by June Allisson Westarb Cruz, Brazilian, and professor at the Marist Catholic University of Curitiba (PUCPR). Starting with a nice story and references to concrete experiences, he showed how a financial plan is not some sort of calculation made arbitrarily by experts; it is rather the last phase of a much wider process, which must start with the direct involvement of as many people as possible.

As he explained, it is about a participatory process to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of each local institution first, and then of the AUs as a whole. It must involve all the local community: pupils (June Allisson insisted much on this as a non-negligible component), teachers, leaders... and it should cover the apostolic aspect, the educational competences, the general organization of the work, how to find and manage resources and, last but not least, the importance of a proper budgeting. This data alone yields important results for AUs: better animation, governance and management of existing resources. It is also the basis for an improvement plan in line with the expectations and possibilities identified throughout the analysis process. A Commission already appointed by the General Council will study how to put this process in motion and see which AU will be willing to start...

The formation project for the leaders of the Marist schools in Africa was created by the African Commission of the Mission Secretariat. Br. João Carlos do Prado, director of the Secretariat, Br. John Kusi (District of West Africa) and Br. Michel Maminiaina (Madagascar) illustrated the project, explaining that two leaders will be called initially from each school for a twelve-day formative session.

There are six areas of learning: a) Globalization and signs of the times; b) Role models and testimonies; c) social justice and solidarity; d) The leader in the Marist tradition of education; e) Educational responsibility and children's rights; f) Basic requirements for the management of a work. 

The first workshop will be held in Nairobi from 27 July to 8 August 2015, for the works of the PACE and Madagascar Provinces; the second will be in Ghana from 17 to 29 August 2015 for the leaders of Nigeria and the District of West Africa; the third will take place in the Province of Southern Africa, from 18 to 30 April 2016 in the 6 countries of this AU.  The project is not conceived as an isolated event, but as the first step in a plan that will continue in all Provinces and Countries, collaborating with other local non-Marist realities that are interested in the educational work with today's young Africans. External cooperation agencies look at this initiative with favour, because they see it as a significant contribution to the development of Africa.

Last but not least, Br. Mario Meuti, director of FMSI, introduced some novelties as to the relations with those donors who have contributed so much to financing of the Marist works, in Africa and elsewhere. He pointed out that all these institutions now operate in a professional manner: they only accept clear and consistent projects provided with a documented analysis of the needs, a description of objectives and activities, a detailed analysis of the costs and the budget... Not to mention transparency in reporting: some of them already submit a report to be analysed and approved by external auditors. Hence the need (and this was a proposal made to the participants) to train people with technical expertise to engage with donors, collect documented information and help FMSI in all these project phases.

Three different themes, all strongly interconnected and fully consistent with the New Models of animation, government and management that the entire Marist Institute is developing around the world.

The session ended with some practical information about the International Marist Mission Assembly and that of the African Commission for the Laity.

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