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Sunday October 26, 2008

St Xavier’s marks a new chapter after 156 years

GEORGE TOWN: Next year will mark the end of an era for the La Salle Brothers’ public school administration in Malaysia when the last Brother principal in the country retires.

St Xavier’s Institution (SXI) here will see a government servant lead the institution for the first time in over 150 years when Brother Paul Ho, its 29th religious head, steps down in June.

“SXI was the first school in the nation to be administered and fully owned by the Brothers and it can be called the epicentre of spreading the La Salle vision of educating the young,” said Brother Director of Malaysia Anthony Rogers.

Although Brother Paul’s retirement would mark the end of the line of Brother headmasters in the country, Brother Anthony says it will not be the end of the Lasallian legacy.

“A long time ago, when people thought of the schools, they would always think about the Brothers but over the years, we have grown beyond that.

“There is now a whole La Salle family made up of every boy and girl who has studied in our schools along with the teachers, parents, staff and collaborators who have had ties with the schools.

“We’re handing over the baton and it’s a new paradigm which is formed with the same message by a community that knows what it means to be a Lasallian,” he said.

“Brother Paul’s incident is not new. Over the years, all our other schools have also been taken over by lay people.

“There is no real cause for concern as strong boards of governors have been formed to safeguard the traditions and it has been a long-standing promise by the Govern-ment to give us consultation in the appointing of heads in our schools,” Brother Anthony added.

“Since 1852 to 1965, the Brothers built 46 schools in Peninsular Malaysia and were also given 10 more in Sabah and Sarawak by the Bishop to administer,” he said.

On the future of the La Salle Brothers, Brother Anthony said there were many more good things to come.

“The Brothers’ initial priority was to set up a basic education system in the country and the Government has successfully taken over that responsibility.

“There are currently about 10 Brothers aged 40 to 60 who are still active in Malaysia and there has been a lot of thought about branching out into the setting up of private colleges or even universities.

“There is also an increasing number of children suffering from autism and providing education for children with special needs is also part of our plans,” he said.

Brother Paul, too, is positive about his impending retirement, and says the La Salle Brothers have achieved what they had set out to do.

“It’s okay. It’s moving and we have left our legacy.

“We hope that in whatever we have done, we have given the people what was expected. That is our yardstick of what a school should be.

“After all, we only came here to give education to the people of Malaysia and at the end of the day, we have done our job,” he said.

Related story:
End of the La Salle Brothers’ era

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