St Joseph’s Private Schools open
KUCHING — Being the very first Catholic private schools in Kuching, St Joseph’s Private Primary and Secondary Schools (SJPPSS) made another milestone when it was officially opened by Tan Sri Datuk Amar Leo Moggie Irok and blessed by His Grace Archbishop John Ha on the morning of 6 January. The historic occasion was witnessed by priests, the religious, donors, teachers, parents, students of the Private Schools and well-wishers.
The event took place at the temporary school building where the old St Joseph’s Tuition Centre was. The unveiling of the school plague and ringing of the school bell was done by the former federal minister, Tan Sri Datuk Amar Leo Moggie Irok, who is the chairman of the schools’ board of management. Also present at the event was Infrastructure Development and Communications Minister Dato Sri Michael Mayin, a board member of the SJPPSS. The blessing ceremony then followed at St Joseph’s Cathedral.
In his opening address, His Grace Archbishop John Ha shared that the idea of setting up the mission private schools was the result of the total loss of control of all the existing mission schools. He said the loss of control started when the schools were turned into government-aided schools. Mission schools must be characterised by their Christian ethos. A decision was therefore taken to start completely new schools – primary and secondary. The Archbishop was grateful that the Ministry of Education approved his application for the new schools and the use of the name “St Joseph” for them.
SJPPSS have a humble start. Both the primary and secondary schools are temporarily housed in the old building of the former St Joseph’s Tuition Centre.
“The very humble beginning of the schools reminds me of the very humble and humiliating condition in which Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour was born – in a manger in Bethlehem,” he continued. “But the impact he made during his public mission was far reaching across all time and space. Today, more than 2000 years after Christ… christian values have been implanted in the hearts of people.”
Recalling how the existing St Joseph’s schools had a humble beginning and yet are presently well known all over Sarawak, His Grace was confident that SJPPSS would “flourish and provide education beyond the ordinary to students year after year”, just like the small mustard seed that grows into a very big tree.
Archbishop John Ha also highlighted the roles of teachers in his homily. “In school,” he said, “teachers play an important role not just to impart knowledge, but also to help students experience God’s love through their own good example of loving and caring.” As students learn to love and respect others in the school community, they would also “carry this Christian ethos to the future and contribute towards building up a more respectful and caring society.”
Tan Sri Datuk Amar Leo Moggie in his speech especially welcomed the new students of SJPPSS, calling them “the future of the school”. Touching on education, he said that besides to excelling academically and to be knowledgeable, it is equally important for students to grow up to be people who know and practise their christian faith.
According to Tan Sri, the schooling hours for the primary school is 7.30 am – 3.30 pm while the secondary school is 7.30 am – 5.30 pm. He explained, while the schools would be teaching the national curriculum extra time is needed for Bible Studies and Character Building, also allowing more interaction between the teachers and the students “so that students will acquire a more wholesome education.”
Science and Mathematics would be taught in both English and Bahasa Malaysia – which is also part of the reasons why more time is required.
Speaking on behalf of the board of management he assured all present that the board would give their best for the development of SJPPSS and her students, with the support and cooperation from the people of Kuching and Sarawak.
After the speeches, Archbishop John Ha presented souvenirs to donors and all who were involved in the setup of the schools in one way or another as a token of appreciation.
The principal of the secondary school is Fr Francis Lim, a Jesuit priest who will be coming in the middle of the year. Sr Odilia Ngui from the Sisters of St Francis Sarawak (SSFS) is the headmistress of the primary school. Another two Franciscan sisters who are also teaching in the schools are Sr Rose Ting and Sr Catherine Uming. They are ably assisted by a team of trained and experienced teachers specially selected to set up the school. In total, there are currently five primary school and thirty secondary school teachers.
When asked for comments on SJPPSS, the Protem Principal of the secondary school, Dominic Pan remarked: “A breath of fresh air in christian education. With the direct involvement of the church and the presence of the religious, it will be an institution of hope, love and Although a private Catholic school, its doors are open to all communities, regardless of race and religion.
Currently there are thirty students in Primary One, eight in Primary Two and 105 secondary students in Form One.
Today’s Catholic had the opportunity to interview two Form One students, asking them on how it was to be the first students of the school.
“I feel very proud and fortunate. Proud because as a Catholic, I have the chance to learn Bible and Catechism in the class; fortunate because I have the chance to enjoy such wonderful and creative education in the school,” said Jocelyn Hiu.
Brandon anak John Riba commented, “I am proud and glad. It’s a very good school! The teachers are excellent and care about us. The school is clean, beautiful and very religious. I feel very focused when I study because it’s very quiet and comfortable. I met a lot of people and they are very nice, smart and friendly. I love this school.”
SJPPSS is the very first catholic private schools in Kuching initiated by ex-Josephians and Yayasan Lasallian Kuching. The new private schools promise to provide a holistic education to enrich the lives of her students and with a mission to create opportunities and provide a conducive environment to enable every child to realise his/her potential in the spirit of the school motto “Ora Et Labora” (Pray and Work).
The new St Joseph’s Private Schools building is now under construction at the existing St Joseph’s rugby field, at the estimated cost of RM13 million. Although still falling short of the amount required, the board was grateful for the donations from well-wishers which enabled the school to commence operation. They are also hoping that more generous donors would come forward to support this project by January 2013. Those who would like to donate to such a worthy cause, please make your donation in cheques or bank drafts payable to “St Joseph’s Private School Building Fund” at:
The Archbishop’s Office, PO Box 940, 93718 Kuching, Sarawak
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