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Lasallian Education in Malaysia Print E-mail
                       
ImageLike many great sagas, the story of the Christian Brothers, also known as the La Salle Brothers in Malaysia began with an honourable ambition and a daring dream. Honourable because they desired to educate and enlighten the ‘downtrodden and poor’ in the East where education was a luxury, only for the rich. Daring because in 1852, a group of six Brothers (three French, two Irish, one American) made an undaunted journey by sea from France to the Far East, to pledge their future in an alien country totally unknown to them. On board the ship “La Julie” heading for Singapore were also five Sisters of St. Maur, more commonly known as the IJ Sisters. Sadly, the Reverend Sister Superior succumbed to the strenuous journey and died within sight of the island.
Nevertheless, the Brothers and Sisters struggled on to achieve what they had travelled thousands of miles to do. Three of the Brothers remained in Singapore while the other three travelled to Penang the result of which was eventually to be the St. Xavier’s Institution, or SXI for short, the mother of all Lasallian schools in the country. Soon, Lasallian schools proliferated throughout the country and the Brothers earned the respect of all – teachers, students and their parents. During the pinnacle years in the 60’s. 70’s and 80’s, there were no less than 60 primary and secondary schools set up by the Brothers.

Their Malaysian dream fulfilled.
           
As a testimony to the Brothers’ contributions, the Official Year Book of the Federation of Malaya 1967, when reporting the quality of education in schools run by the Christian bodies expressed: “..... the Mission schools, particular those under the direction of the Roman Catholic Christian Brothers and the Americam Methodist Church were chiefly responsible for the rapid advancement in English education.And by 1914, some three fourths of the boys receiving education were in those schools ..... It is a striking  tribute to the selflessness of these men and women that they should have gained  the ready confidence and affection of both parents and teachersdespite differences in religion and culture ......”
Available school records before world war II , in fact showed that
74% of the boys and almost all the girls were in Mission schools.
For countless Malaysians who have had the privilege of studying under the La Salle Brothers, their education has been a wholesome and rewarding experience. They received more than quality education. They are imbued with moral values that have put them in good stead in life. This is an acknowledged fact and it explains why the alumni hold the Brothers in high esteem and their Alma Maters close to their hearts even though they left school decades ago.
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Last Brother Principal
However, circumstances became restrictive for Mission schools with the implementation of the National Education Policy in '69. This, coupled with increasing materialistic pursuits, young men find it difficult to think of a life as a Brother. As a result, the number of Brothers in the local education scene dwindled over the past decades with less than a handful still actively serving in the teaching profession. They are but a few gems striving gallantly to preserve the moral values and the traditions of the La Salle Brothers in today’s education by adapting these universal and timeless values to contemporary conditions.

The Brothers’ diminishing presence ironically provides the spark that ignites the fire for the refounding of the La Salle Mission in this country; only this time round, through the lay people and in a bigger dimension given the large number of La Sallians supporting the Cause.

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