New Developments at Madagascar School Project
by Warren Lee Cohen
A year has gone by since I worked with the faculty at MSP and it is amazing to see the burgeoning growth that has occurred at the school in this short period of time. Kathy Lucking, the founder and director of the school, dropped by my office today to share the many new developments including new buildings, record enrolment, teacher education seminars and redesigned, expanded garden facilities to help feed both staff and students. They truly are working together to improve individual lives, enhance culture and re-enliven the Malagasy environment.
New Classroom Building
Thanks to the continuing generosity of the Tenaquip Foundation, the school now has another new six classroom building with purpose built science lab. This building will enable the now 720 students in kindergarten to grade 13 to have dedicated classroom spaces for their studies.
Waldorf Inspired Training for all MSP Teachers
Thanks to the generosity of stART International and IASWECE, (the International Association of Waldorf Early Childhood Educators), teams of Waldorf teacher educators will be working with the faculty over the next two years to help them enrich both their curriculum and teaching, through the insights of Waldorf education. The latest one week intensive workshop gave the 40 MSP teachers and 20 teachers from other schools in the area, an engaging experience of Waldorf pedagogy. This rich and active week was focused on how to shape the Malagasy curriculum to best meet the unique opportunities in each stage of child development. They worked with creative pedagogy and explored ways to enliven the curriculum through the arts. The teachers, who have little experience of the arts were amazed by what they were able to create. It was a lively and fun week for all. They look forward to sharing these new capacities with students to inspire their life-long love of learning.
Permaculture Garden Development
Perhaps the most far ranging and ambitious development happened in the gardens where a team of permaculture designers led by Waldorf graduates from Switzerland and Germany coordinated a team of over 320 parent volunteers to completely redesign the school’s extensive gardens, which, like most of Madagascar, suffer from the devastating effects of erosion. The aim of this project is to capture as much rainwater as possible in the land, keep fertile soil from washing away and use natural systems to irrigate food crops and restore the land.
They formed into volunteer teams that worked together for a week, completely transforming the hillside below the school to provide school lunches for the children while healing the environment and building soil. Once they had moved and terraced many tons of earth they planted a diverse range of crops including 140 fruit trees. These will help hold all of the terraces in place, to guarantee shade and fruit for years to come.
The project developed so much momentum that an NGO from Switzerland and the local Anglican Church also became interested and came to work for the week. Reflecting on this whole exciting week, Kathy shared:
“Standing up on the hill, I had a sense that something bigger than us was at work here. A diverse group of people from around the globe were lending their strength and will, to make soil fertile again to feed hungry people. Parents, teachers, church and charities from thousands of kilometres away came here, to this tiny piece of land, for a brief week, to change the landscape for the benefit of generations to come.
This was visual confirmation for me that everyone wants to be part of positive change and that Waldorf education opens the mind and engages the will for the good of the world.”