In April, Marist leaders from all countries in the Southern African Province came together for almost two weeks to engage in the New Horizons Workshop on school leadership. Under the direction and facilitation of Marist Brother, Professor David Hall, Professor of Education at the Australian Catholic University, we interrogated various leadership styles such as servant, situational, ethical, authentic, visionary, prophetic, distributive and transformative.
Professor Hall, supported by Mr Joseph Kwabena Onyinah, was adamant that 21st Century leadership is about ethics, authenticity, competence, accountability, vision, influence and transformation. Our challenge is to change the attitude of indifference to the environment and our fellow human beings to one of support for the common good, which is central to the survival of future generations. Dr Nontando Hadebe believes that we need to cultivate ‘cultures of solidarity, reconciliation and justice.’
So what does all of this have to do with primary school education you may ask? We are not only educating learners in the three R’s but more importantly, for life and to be productive, ethical citizens committed to making a difference in the world. Southern African Marist Provincial, Br Joseph Walton, reminded us that, as leaders in Catholic, Marist schools, we are on a journey to make Jesus known and loved. He reminded us that we may not see the fruits of our labours, but need to work for the transformation of our society wherever we find ourselves. Our schools need to be beacons of hope and places where children are made aware of the common good.
In his address, Br Joseph outlined the mark of a true Marist student: faith-filled disciples who possess a strong sense of God and have a strong prayer life; empowered witnesses of God’s love, who live simply, morally and with integrity, respecting all life and creation; agents of justice and service who stand in compassionate solidarity with the least favoured; servant leaders who recognize that they are lovingly created by God with unique gifts and talents, which they are called to develop and share with the wider community; tenacious, hard-working agents of change who welcome everyone.
He also outlined the mark of a Marist educator as one who embodies faith and personal relationships with parents, teachers and children, who lives a simple life of integrity, fosters goodness and love, donates talents and time for the service of the community, leads through justice and service and, in addition, models the Marist family spirit where a sense of community is made through one’s presence.
In the Primary School, we believe that we are building foundations for learning and skills for life. These foundations and skills fall into two equally important dimensions of a child’s holistic education: dispositions and competencies. Dispositions refer to the personal, moral, social, emotional and spiritual dimensions of a person which, if well-developed, create an ethical, reflective, empathetic person with a sense of justice to transform the world around him/her. Competencies refer to literacy, numeracy and life skills, including art, drama, physical education and technical skills, which a learner needs to acquire to be successful in high school and the workplace.
If we, as a society, are to meet the challenges articulated through the #FeesMustFall campaign, schools need to be responsive and innovative. They need to be places where the formation of ethical, courageous leadership is developed through rigorous discussion and evaluation so that lasting solutions can be formulated.
As you page through this magazine, you will see evidence of children being true Marist learners. You will see learners raising funds for other children through Red and White Day, the Big Walk and Civvies for Cancer. The Pre-Primary School also make sandwiches for Meals on Wheels every week.
Our achievements are a result of the huge commitment our management team, teachers, administrative and support staff have towards the College. We thank them all. We are also grateful to members of the Parent Association, some of whom spend hours assisting at various school events or as class reps. In particular, we thank Marietjie Zimmermann for her huge contribution as PA Chair over the past two years.
As you start the end-of-year holiday period, we wish all of you safe travelling, a blessed Christmas and a happy, healthy and peaceful 2017.