Celebrating the great educator - St. John Baptist de La Salle

In conjunction with the tercentenary of the passing of its founder, SJIIM held a Founder's Day Celebration on 16 May. This is also the Year of Lasallian Vocations and is celebrated by Lasallians around the world.

Br. Armin Luistro (right), the new Brother Visitor of the Lasallian East Asia District (LEAD) and Governor of SJII Malaysia along with Br. Ricky Laguda who is the General Councillor, looking delighted with SJII Malaysia’s amazing start during the LEAD Brothers' visit to the school in 2017.  Photo: St Joseph’s Institution International School Malaysia

St. John Baptist de la Salle was the founder of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, or more commonly known as Lasallian education. A pioneer in the field of education, he founded teacher training colleges, reform schools for troubled youth, and schools teaching the arts, science and modern languages. While his work was mostly in France, his vision spread throughout the world, educating countless students and it continues to do so today with great success. St. John Baptist de la Salle was canonised in 1900 and made patron saint of educators in 1950. 

We asked what this special year meant for Lasallians and SJIIM

2019 is the Year of Lasallian Vocations – what does this mean and why is it so important? 
When a person says he/she has a vocation, this means that their profession is more than just receiving income, i.e. offering a service that benefits humanity. For the Brothers of the Christian Schools (De La Salle Brothers), the religious vocation is constantly prompting us to reflect on “What am I being called to do?”

It is also an opportunity to acknowledge, appreciate and support all Lasallian vocations, and the many thousands of women and men who are living their own vocation through compassion, commitment and togetherness for the service of young people through education.

Br. Edmundo Fernandez (centre), the first Brother Visitor of the Lasallian East Asia District (LEAD) was impressed with the school’s amazing facilities during his visit to SJII Malaysia in 2016. Together with him are, Mr. Dennis Tang (left), Governor and current President of SJII Malaysia and Br. Thomas Lavin, SJII Malaysia’s first Brother President.
Photo: St Joseph’s Institution International School Malaysia

Describe the school’s mission and ethos briefly and what the establishment of a Lasallian International School in Malaysia means for the tercentenary celebrations.
SJIIM is the brother school of SJI and SJII Singapore, and its ethos is based on the three Lasallian Principles of Faith, Service and Community. The Lasallian Spirit strives to reach out to ‘The Least, The Last and The Lost’, and this is deeply embedded within the school system and environment. The key differentiator of SJIIM is the Lasallian Spirit which encourages its students to reach out to the less fortunate in society with much emphasis given to the development of a sound value system. 

Emphasis is also placed on the school’s collaboration with the Lasallian Mission Centres in Malaysia and the Philippines (service programmes and initiatives), SJI Independent, Junior and SJI International in Singapore (student exchange programmes and collaborations) and the National Institute of Education Singapore (continuous professional development training in Singapore Maths and Mandarin). 

The establishment of a new top-tier Lasallian International School like SJII in Malaysia bodes well for the tercentenary celebrations this year as it highlights the joint efforts of the Brothers and Lasallian alumni in honouring the great work of its Founder, St. John Baptist de La Salle. SJIIM’s students display their learned values in their actions and behaviour which demonstrates the benefits of a values-based holistic education. 

Dato’ Br. Paul Ho, Chairman of the Board of Governors at SJII Malaysia and Brother President of SJI Singapore, delivering a speech during one of the school’s events. 
Photo: St Joseph’s Institution International School Malaysia

What is the significance of the Tercentenary of St. John Baptist de La Salle for the Malaysian and international community? 
We are not just celebrating a memory; what we are trying this year and throughout the years is to have the same courage that John Baptist de La Salle and the first Brothers had at the time they set out on new paths, with the following questions in mind: 
•    What are we being called to today in the educational mission?
•    What are the new needs?
•    What is the context we’re living in?

Present day Brothers who are involved in SJI International Schools. Br. Jason Blaikie (left), Brother Director at SJII Malaysia and Br. Lawrence Humphrey, Brother President of SJII Singapore and Governor of SJII Malaysia. 
Photo: St Joseph’s Institution International School Malaysia

What does this celebration mean for Lasallian schools in Malaysia? 

This is an opportunity for the Brothers and partners to continue to be of one heart, one commitment and one life, and to be of service to young people in formal and informal education. We must continue being Lasallian in our schools based on the five core principles which are: Concern for the Poor and Social Justice, Faith in the Presence of God, Quality Education, Respect for All Persons, and Inclusive Community.
Where does SJIIM see itself in the near future? 

SJIIM is thankful that it is making a significant contribution to the international school space in Malaysia and will continue to maintain its reputation for imparting scholastic knowledge and good values, and be an institution where moral compasses are built into all students. We are committed to delivering the rich brand of Lasallian education that many have come to expect that is filled with dedication and sense of service.

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