Sunday, June 03, 2007

Montessori – visionary educator

Gemma Sisia started the School of St Jude in 2002 with 5 pupils and a vision for a grand possibility. In only five years her school has grown to 850 students and she has started a second campus. She is well on the way to achieving her grand vision.

Gemma Sisia on book launch tour

Like other successful educators, Gemma has an optimistic view of the potential of children. In this respect, she follows the footsteps of Dr Maria Montessori, possibly the most influential educator of modern times,

The discovery of the powers of the child is the most important discovery humanity has ever made and uncovers the very roots of our life.

Maria Montessori, a ninetheenth century Italian doctor, observed young children and established classrooms based on the principle of learning by doing. Her teaching methods have spread to most countries of the world. Indeed, the world’s largest school, the City Montessori School in Lucknow, is based on her principles.

City Montessori School, Lucknow – one of the four campuses

The story of this amazing school, sounds a lot like the School of St Jude, only it is further down the track.

The City Montessori School (CMS) Lucknow, India, was founded in 1959 by a young visionary couple, Mr. Jagdish Gandhi, a socially motivated Gandhian, along with his wife Dr. (Mrs.) Bharti Gandhi, M.Ed., Child Psychologist. Rich in enthusiasm, the devoted pair launched their first campus on borrowed capital of three hundred rupees, housed it in rented premises and began with only five students on roll. The young couple had to face a myriad of initial difficulties in making their vision a reality. Over the years, however, they have successfully overcome these difficulties with unflinching devotion to their original mission.

Like Gemma, the founders started with a huge vision and limited resources. Now, the school educates 30,000 students on three campuses in Lucknow. It is estimated that 250,000 people have been educated there.

Most importantly, the school has a strong ethos of teaching peace and unity and this has made a impact on the city of Lucknow. This was recognised in 2002 when the founders, Jagdish and Bharti Gandhi were awarded the UNESCO Prize for Peace Education. The City Montessori School has been their lifework, and what an achievement it is!

I hope that all of you who support the School of St Jude feel that you are part of something momentous for the country of Tanzania. In decades to come, the generations of children who graduate from the School of St Jude with a sound education and good moral values, will be as proud as you to have been a small part of a large vision.

School of St Jude: Fighting Poverty Through Education. Educating the future leaders of Tanzania.

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