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5o years of marist presence in Antananarivo

08/07/2009: Madagascar

Marist Brothers and lay collaborators celebrated 50 years of Champagnat School in Antananarivo, Madagascar on 4, 5 and 6th June 2009. The occasion was marked by student participation in various sports and cultural activities. On 5th June, the Eucharist celebration, the peak of the event was presided over by His Excellency Odon Arsene Razanakolona, Archibishop of Antananarivo in the parish church in Anatihazo. At the opening of the mass, Brother Jean Juste made a speech highlighting the historical background of the school and of the collaboration between Marists and the local church since the foundation of the school to date. He also mentioned the need to extend the school to accommodate upper secondary educational level which parents have been requesting the Marist Brothers. The head teacher Brother Pierre Joseph insisted on the responsibilities of all educational stakeholders in order to bring about change and development in the school and in the education of the children and young people there. However, he made clear that despite hesitations of parents and well wishers to play their role, the school management is ready to move ahead and put into place the required change.

Teachers and parents who have been serving the school faithfully for long time were awarded Bene Merenti by the Archbishop to the loud applause of the entire congregation which was made up of mainly students of the school. After mass, the Archbishop blessed the newly built grotto where statutes of our Lady, St Marcellin with two young children stand. After the blessing of the grotto, the Archbishop and the parish priest joined the entire school administration, staff and parents at a special school finger buffet in the school new hall.

As the school celebrated the 50th anniversary, the entire Marist province of Madagascar and the lay collaborators raise important questions such as the ownership of all parochial schools in the province, the extension of the schools and school infrastructure, the nature of collaboration with stakeholders especially parents and the management of Marist schools in the province.
Regarding the ownership of the school the Marist brothers including the provincial and his counsel assert that after 50 years of management of this parochial school by the Marist Brothers, it is natural that it now belongs entirely to the Brothers. In addition the process regarding this matter is being studied by both the Marist and the local church. However, it is not evident to people including the teachers the significance of this shift of ownership although the Marist Brothers declare that schools under their entire authority will surely change and develop.

Concerning school administration, there is need to modernize our school management. This entails among other things, greater involvement of teachers and parents in decision making and implementation. In addition, development of our schools and increase in educational performance of the students will require the administration to embark on income generating projects in order to get resources to finance school programmes which school fees can not cover. Such programmes include field trips, purchase of sport equipment and other extra curricular activities.

Tiamaro Alphonse, fms Madagascar

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