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Journey with a dream Print E-mail
ImageThe Journey with a dream began in 1680 when the founder of the De La Salle Order, John Baptist De La Salle, born of distinguished birth and on course for a brilliant career, gave away all these to dedicate himself to provide education to the abandonned children who roamed the streets of Rheim. His heart was touched as he reflected “These are my brothers! they  needed me!” With a band of helpers he recruited, they formed community and called themselves BROTHERS and dedicated their lives to teaching the neglected and deprived. Soon they spread over 80 countries touching youthful hearts and harness their creative forces for a culture of compassion and service.
ImageSix Brothers set foot in Penang 150 years ago and established the first Lasallian school in this country, Saint Xavier’s Institution, or SXI for short. Soon Lasallian schools proliferated throughout the land with no less than 60 primary and secondary schools during the pinnacle years in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. The Brothers earned the respect of all – teachers, students and their parents. Their Malaysian dream …… fulfilled; tens of thousands of Malaysian youths received quality wholesome education.

It is unfortunate that circumstances and local policies, beginning 1969 have caused the Brothers to lose their grip on their schools. Their number now dwindles to a little more than a handful; and with every possibility that their legacy may be so eroded that it will soon become lost in this country. 
The Lasallian Heritage, with its characteristic ethos, has a very special meaning for all whose hearts are touched by the Brothers. For the love of the Brothers and the need to preserve quality, well-rounded education for posterity, the Lasallian alumni rally to take up the challenge to continue the “Journey”. The move is very timely.
The action to preserve the Lasallian Heritage was crystallised by a small group of alumni in 1998 (though there were attempts before this). They initiated the formation of a Permanent Working Committee headed by Tan Sri Dato’ Chan Choong Tak (President, Old Paulians’ Association). Founding members of this committee comprised Tan Sri Dato’ Dr. Ani Arope, Tan Sri Dato’ Dr. Syed Jalaluddin, Dato’ Fong Weng Phak, Dato’ Richard Robless,  Ng Soon Hong (all from Xaverian Club KL), Datuk K.K. Lim (Old Michaelians’ Association), Wong Chan Shim (Old Paulians’ Association), Dr. Goh  Cheng Teik (Old Xaverians’ Association), Wilfred Vias and Vincent Fernandez (from St. John’s Alumni Association). With the Brothers’ blessing, this Committee was renamed De La Salle Advisory Committee. It later expanded and was renamed De La Salle Advisory Board as more representatives from the various alumni associations joined in support. It held regular meetings  to formulate guidelines and plans for the setting up of a tertiary education College and  an education foundation later known as Yayasan De La Salle. Various sub-committees were formed to research and to make recommendations for implementation.

De La Salle Tertiary Education College
ImageIt is the unspoken rule that a university can only be set up on the invitation of the government. This essentially takes years or, such invitation may not even come at all. Since the Brothers already have a licence to operate the De La Salle Language Institute (DLSI) in Kuala Lumpur, the DLS  Advisory Board, with the consent of the Brothers decided to develop DLSI into a tertiary college and ultimately, a university. Thus, De La Salle Institute becomes the first joint-mission project between the Brothers and the alumni in their effort to preserve Lasallian education.  This action essentially provides an opportunity to the student now studying at a Lasallian school to continue his/her education in the La Sallian system at the tertiary level. 

At DLSI, he/she can experience the rare opportunity of having a mentor as the Institute emphasises on personalised teaching with classes of not more than 20 students at a time. DLSI is managed by a Board of Directors comprising five Brothers and five alumni members.
Apart from the English language courses, DLSI  offers diploma courses in Information Technology and Business Administration. What sets DLSI apart from the other colleges is its concern for students’ overall personal development. After all, “education is a total development of the mind, body and spirit,” commented Professor Dr. Tarcisius Chin, the Chief Executive Officer, "DLSI  endeavours to bring back the element of the “old school” with a shift towards fundamental values such as honesty, diligence, discipline, tolerance and respect that are integral to a civil society.
Yayasan De La Salle (YDLS)
The setting up of Yayasan De La Salle (YDLS), an educational foundation is the logical second step towards achieving the noble objective of preserving the Lasallian traditions. The Foundation's main aim is to support La Sallian educational projects. YDLS was formally incorporated in 2001 under the relevant laws and it was officially launched in Kuala Lumpur on 7th December, 2001.  The launch dinner was well supported by the alumni, well-wishers and the Brothers. It was indeed a night of La Sallian solidarity. Yayasan de La Salle is governed by a Council made up of four Brothers and eight Old Boys of Lasallian schools. The Chairman of Yayasan de La Salle is Brother Peter Foo FSC who is the Brother Visitor, Penang District.
Many people often marvel at the boundless energy, passion and commitment most alumni have towards the preservation of the Lasallian heritage. Why is this so?  I believe their passion for the noble cause drives them to make the difference – solving problems instead of just  identifying them. This in turn motivates them to do something about it (the erosion of the Lasallian heritage which they dearly care about).
In the light of local developments, alumni associations are now becoming more aware of the need to break down institutional walls, prompting their members to call themselves La Sallians instead of Anthonians, Franciscans, Georgians, Johanians, Josephians, Paulians, Michaelians, Xaverians etc.  As students of the Brothers’ schools, we all belong to the same family, the Lasallian family, irrespective of which school we originally studied in - whether in Malaysia or any other part of the world for that matter.
More and more alumni are now coming forward to lend their support in the Lasallian cause. The Malaysian Federation of La Sallian Associations, if shifted into high gear, can become the prime force in catalysing the achievement of the objective.

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