The majority of the Catholic schools under the leadership of their respective Congregations are aimed at transforming the surrounding society by conveying holistic education. The Evangelising Sisters of Mary is one of the Catholic Institutes running different schools among the less advantaged people in the society. This paper explains how the Missionary Congregation of the Evangelising Sisters of Mary carries out its education mission in regard to its charism in the church and society. It gives a brief historical background of their foundation and their founders as it expounds on how they manage the whole idea of running schools, financing the schools, maintain discipline, raising academic performance and handling challenges facing the management of the secondary schools under its care.
The foundation of the Evangelising Sisters of Mary was at the ground that they save their fellow Africans in implementing their charism through Catechetical instruction. These Sisters are located in various parts of the world where they implement their charism2 through social ministry, healing ministry and teaching ministry. All these apostolates are centred at teaching people’s hearts and planting the church where it is not yet planted and bringing the church to full development where it is already implanted.
As far as the Church directs its teachings through the mission of Christ the Redeemer, Fr. John Marengoni made sure that he safeguarded the Charism of the Evangelising Sisters of Mary by stressing on how the Sisters should carry out their various missions prioritising non-Christians and those still in need of help for their Christian faith. It is for that case therefore, that the teaching ministry of the Missionary Congregation of the Evangelising Sisters of Mary emanates. Consequently, the teaching ministry is part of the congregational charism, which emphasises on making Christ known to the people by planting the church where it is not yet planted and bringing it to full development where it is already planted through the social ministry, healing ministry and the teaching ministry, all of which is done without forgetting catechetical instruction according to MCSEM Constitution 1988, number 4 & 5.
In fulfilment of the charism and work of charity, Missionary Congregation of the Evangelising Sisters of Mary has established learning institutions such as kindergarten, nursery, primary schools, secondary schools and vocational training institutes in Congregational centres in Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya. The ESM Sisters are also involved in the management of Catholic-sponsored public and private secondary schools owned the government or the Catholic Church, respectively. These Sisters are also involved in sponsoring students who have excelled in the secondary schools to the higher learning institutions such as colleges and universities.
The Evangelising Sisters of Mary conscious of teaching mission of the Church has always ensured that some members are prepared for the education of the people they evangelise (Adhiambo 2012; MCESM Constitution 1988). This is because to them education is the key influential factor for the development of the individual in life. Studies have shown that education has been pointed out to be an instrument for the eradication of poverty and inequality as well as a tool for economic development. Attacking persistent poverty in low- and middle-income countries is the greatest single challenge facing the global developing community as the world in the twenty-first century. Despite progress during the past decade, the battle is far from won, and progress has been slower than had been hoped at the beginning of the 1990s (World Bank 2013). It is at this point therefore that the Sisters are working hard towards achieving the vision of eradicating poverty among the vulnerable children through education. The following section endeavours to explore how the MCESM go about the running of the schools that are under their care.
Management of secondary schools by the MCESM
Evangelising Sisters of Mary just like many other Catholic Congregations run both private and public secondary schools. Out of the nature of their Charism, the Evangelising Sisters of Mary are obliged to run mixed schools where they can accommodate both boys and girls.3 Sisters managing the schools, most of whom tend to hold the leadership position for not more than exceeding five years within a particular school. This is because of the missionary nature of the Congregation. Their position in the schools is mostly under the high supervision of the Congregational leadership team as the main school managers.
The Congregation leadership team plays a great role in motivating teachers and learners. Motivation of teachers is done through training those who show interest in short courses such as computer studies and life skills. Motivating teachers can as well improve their self-esteem at work. Similarly, seminars and workshops to the teachers are often offered freely to help them boost their competencies on how to handle differentiated learners who attend the schools run by the Sisters.
Strategies of managing discipline cases at one of the selected school
Having said earlier that most of MCSEM schools are coeducational in nature, issues pertaining to discipline require great attention. As seen at times, some students when not well monitored because of the nature of day schooling can easily get in with drugs and substance; and become suppliers to the rest. Theft is also one of the cases that are handled bearing in mind that the majority of the learners come from the informal settlement. Most of them struggle in life comprising ill-mannered behaviour such drug abuse, early negative sexual relations, lowering down moral values among the youth sometimes leading to early marriages.
As a Catholic faith-based schools, the Sisters’ goal is to form students holistically; that is, to change lives by imparting useful knowledge, wisdom and fear of God. This is done through adopting both supportive and corrective measures as well as introduced Peace Education programmes that are ingrained in cultural and sport activities as a way of handling indiscipline cases. Alongside other measures, the school has introduced a list of standards and consequences provided to and signed by both parents or guardians and students during admission.
Sisters’ schools observe high levels of discipline given that learners are formed spiritually, morally and academically (holistic development). Learners in the schools managed by the Evangelising Sisters of Mary are encouraged to express themselves, exhibit high levels of mannerism, as well as taking up responsibility. The Sisters prefer guiding their learners and even referring them for counselling when there is a need among other measures.4 All this is done as a way to handling and maintaining a high level of discipline. However, given that not all learners find such an environment conducive, some prefer to leave the school.
Many parents believe in taking their children to schools that are run by Religious, because the schools are well managed and discipline highly maintained. Catholic schools at large do not depend on comprehensively corporal punishment to rectify indiscipline cases but rather, learners are made aware of their mistakes. For instance, parents are informed of their children’s misconduct in school, called for regular meetings to get in touch with the performance of their children as well as their progress.
Apart from the high level of discipline held in the Sisters’ sponsored schools that invite majority of parents to enrol their children, the performance in these schools is a morning bright star in the parents’ heart. Basing on the earlier listed discipline measures and valuable programmes; the school’s performance is raised high. This achievement is attained through both teacher and learner motivation, good management of time that is facilitated by the levels of discipline. There are minimal indiscipline cases that need to be attended to, thus no much time is wasted in solving such cases. Academic clinics5 also play a big role in improving the learner’s performance. Learners are as well are given the opportunity to express themselves in case they feel that their failure is due to the negligence of the teachers.
No school activity can be conducted without adequate finance. Clinging to the motive of the foundation of the Sisters’ school, the school managers set school fees so as to accommodate each and every student. According to the strategies set by the school holders, the school has been able to carry out its activities with the little finances generated from the school fees paid by the parents and well-wishers.6 So far though the school’s finance has not been ample, school managers composed of the Sister principal, school management board have been able to handle school activities without any major problem. Some of the needy students are also assisted by well-wishers whom the Sisters approach for sponsorship.
Currently day by night, the country’s economy is going high and so the cost of school facilities and food stuffs also is affected. Therefore, in order to fit in and provide the essential requirements in the school, school managers with the consultation with the parents may raise the school fees when needed. The discussions on the possibility of increasing fees are done during school meetings. Dealing with such issues of money is not easy because some parents do not even attempt to pay even if the school fees amount is not increased. Though others strive to accomplish their balances, others pay only a quarter of the required amount which becomes hard for the principal to handle such cases.
The school finance is taken care of by highly qualified finance personnel under the management of the general leadership7 of the Congregation. Internal and external auditors make quarterly follow-up to efficient use of the financial resources. This has been a positive way of modifying the activities in the management of the selected school.
Challenges encountered by the ESM in the administration of the selected school
Administration of educational institution entails working to strike a balance among teachers, parents and students. Sister Principals encounter numerous trials such as handling students’ indiscipline cases. This is so because most of the students’ houses/homes are situated in informal settlement within a nearby town experiencing both economic and social problems. Drug abuse consumption is one of the debauched practice. Drugs and substance are supplied and consumed by both adults and youth endangering the life of the students and the learning environment. Undoubtedly, a good number of students coming from such surroundings tend to be introduced to such behaviour leading to drug abuse practice in and out of the school.
An indiscipline case is not to be looked at the learners’ side only but also cases from the teachers who fail to fulfil their obligations for one reason or the other. At times some teachers who disremember their drive of becoming a teacher, tend to be unfaithful in their work leading others astray. There are instances when some teachers have been accused of inciting students to stage strikes.8 The selected school has a boarding section for girls, and once girls planned and attempted strike in the middle of the night. When a close follow-up was made, findings showed that some teachers were behind the story.
Managing schools in the twenty-first century, invites one to be strategic. Secondary school students are young and exposed to the social media and the stuff that comes with it. Students are therefore influenced by what they see in their phones and television sets back at home and they may want to copy that and behave the same in the school. Hence, creating the most common indiscipline case among boys and girls. For example, the issue of dress code. Boys may dress in tight trousers and ‘sag’ them while girls would like to redesign their school skirts to miniskirts, polish their nails and style their hair against the dress code proposed by the school.9
A successful school is one that is well equipped, funded and highly supported. The school lacks adequate funds for development given that most students are from the low-income families from the nearby town. The school mostly supports the vulnerable children and so if no scholarship is not obtained for them, then the school fees are paid by the few who are able to take care of everything. This is why the school principal has to look for sponsors and well-wishers who can step in to gap the insufficient school fees. Currently, every individual is occupied by one or two responsibilities that may not open way for the financial support and if one attempts, it may not take two to three years before pulling back. Therefore, it may not be surprising to find the principal stuck without having smooth running of daily activities of the school or else not paying teachers their salary on time.
The achievements attained in Sisters’ sponsored schools are high levels of discipline and good academic performance because of the regular involvement of the parents to know of the progress of their children. Similarly, though some cases arise here and there the teacher motivation, appraisal, training and promotion play a great role in good performance of the school. Administration which is centred at the Sisters considers finance usage with high keenness considering the nature and status of the parents.
- Adhiambo, J. M. 2012. “Jesus’ Command to Proclaim the Good News: Witness of Bishop Mazzoldi and Fr. John Marengoni Relieved in Education Mission of the Evangelizing Sisters of Mary.” African Christian Studies 28 (1): 17–18. [Google Scholar]
- MCESM Constitution. 1988. The Constitution of the Missionary Congregation of the Evangelizing Sisters of Mary. Nairobi: Kolbe Press. [Google Scholar]
- MCESM. 2020. Accessed May 25 2020. https://mcesm.org/index.php/about-us/9-history. [Google Scholar]
- World Bank. 2013. Poverty Reduction and the World Bank: Progress in Operationalizing the WDR 2000/2001. Washington, DC: Washington. [Google Scholar]