The Prince of Peace School Complex
BENI PROJECT UPDATE
My dear Friends,
Good news from the school. In the attached article, written by Fr. Salvator Musande, the provincial treasurer of the Assumptionists in the Congo, who has been overseeing the progress of the school complex, you will find news of the ongoing development that is taking place.
As you are aware, the Prince of Peace School Complex opened its doors in 2016 with classes for kindergarten through second grade. Each year thereafter another class was added to accommodate the rising students. In 2020 because of the success we had experienced, we built four more classrooms to welcome junior high students and by this November we hope to have constructed four more classrooms to welcome the increasing number of high school students. As you may recall, as we built the grade school classrooms, we received such a high demand for upper level students that we began to use the same classrooms in the afternoon for them. However, we must really consider adequate space for this growing population.
By the end of November, we hope to have 8 classrooms in all for junior and senior high school students. The plans for the entire high school are ambitious as Fr. Salvator’s report will show.
Last year’s enrollment, in spite of the Covid crisis were encouraging. There was a total of 685 students: 135 in pre-K, 350 in the elementary school, and 200 in the junior/senior high school. As of now the numbers for the coming year look even better, if all pans out, as we hope: 200 in pre-K, 400 in the elementary school, and 240 in the junior/senior school for a total of 840 students.
Enjoy reading the news from Fr. Sal and thanks again for your ongoing support.
Fr. John Franck, AA
BUILDING FOUR NEW CLASSROOMS AT THE PRINCE OF PEACE SCHOOL COMPLEX IN BENI, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO
« An Assumptionist education aims at transforming students and society. These two aspects merged into one for Fr. Emmanuel d’Alzon (the founder of the Assumptionists); they form one movement of liberation and transformation as Jesus Christ proposed for every man and woman, » in Teaching and Educating in the spirit of the Assumption, p.5.
1. Brief presentation of the school and its mission
What gave rise to the plans for a school eventually named Prince de la Paix was a situation of great despair resulting from the large scale and unforgiving massacres carried out in Beni and the surrounding regions, a situation that left behind it a trail of misery: massive and forced displacement of populations, thousands of orphans, and trauma of every kind, etc. Besides, whatever measure of hope that existed in the heart of this people was squelched. Seeing the face of God in the faces of all the victims of this barbarism, we couldn’t but ask ourselves, « What can we do? »
So it was, in a concern to contribute our part in maintaining hope and reestablishing a lasting peace that we set out to lay the foundations of a school in the midst of and for this fragile and traumatized population. The school was meant to be a symbol, a sign of hope for a people who had lost all hope and who felt forgotten and abandoned by the world. In our mind we had no option but to dedicate the school to the Prince of Peace. We believe that education, in general, and education for peace, in particular, constitute the solid foundation for a culture of lasting peace which the Congo and the world need more than ever today.
The Prince of Prince School Complex has an ambitious educational goal: contributing to the education of Congolese youth in the spirit of the Assumption. We would like to contribute to the work of reestablishing peace and reconciliation by the education of young people. Educating, and educating well, requires the means to do so. These means consist in an appropriate setting, a setting for high-quality students and teachers. It is for this purpose of preparing an adequate setting for our increasing student body that we are pursuing the construction of additional classrooms at the Prince of Peace School Complex.
A little background. The first classrooms were built in February 2016 and the first students set foot on the grounds on September 2 of that same year. Looking back now on what has been accomplished since then, we are in awe. So we reiterate our gratitude to all those, near and far, who have contributed to this educational enterprise by their talents, their financial aid, their advice, etc.
At the Prince of Peace School Complex there are more girls than boys. Some 70% are girls. We are well aware that in a war zone, it often happens that young boys, some aged 11 to 14, are the first victims of various means of recruitment by armed militia, not the least of which is force.
The motto which the school chose, « Discipline, Peace, Excellence » represents quite a program, but it conveys our great ambition.
From the outset Prince of Peace has been a school with growth in mind. In 2016 the first buildings were put up for kindergarten to second grade. Each year thereafter more grades were added as students moved on.
Today, in July 2022, we have enough furnished classrooms for students from nursery school to sixth grade.
Now we have our eyes set on secondary school construction, a long term project with an ambitious goal of 18 classrooms, laboratories, library, administrative and other space. So far we have only been able to build and furnish 4 of the classrooms for 7th and 8th graders. This coming year we hope to add four more classrooms by November. Already students not from Prince of Peace are knocking at our doors to complete their education here because of the excellent reputation that the school has gained in the region.
Inflationary pressures worldwide have meant that the costs of construction in Beni have risen as well, even if by Western standards they remain low….one classroom only costs $13,000 (without furnishings, i.e desks and chairs).
We have included in this brief presentation some photos of our current students as well as a sketch of the new four classroom project underway.
You, our benefactors, have made it possible to achieve what now exists and it is to you we turn to help us to continue this critically needed enterprise. We wish to convey to you our heartfelt gratitude. Our dream remains: to educate young people for peace and reconciliation in our troubled country.