An Anglican college in Madagascar is facing closure unless a crowdfunding campaign can help it break a decade-long “vicious cycle” of decline caused by two fires in 2005. St Lawrence’s College in Ambohimanoro, at 145 years old, is one of the oldest of the 30 schools within the area served by the diocese of Antananarivo and the only diocesan school in the region.
The college was hit by two fires in 2005, creating what it called a “vicious cycle” of decline: the fires had a negative impact on the school’s finances leading to an inability to offer attractive salaries to teachers. This resulted in reduced motivation and lower quality education, making the college a less attractive option to potential students. As a result, student enrolment declined, leading to further negative impacts on the college finances.
Officials say that the college is facing two outcomes: either closure, or – with a cash injection from the crowd-funding – recovery and college development.
The college was founded by Anglican missionaries in 1871 and has sought to remain true to its founding mission: to provide a better future to Malagasy children by providing an adequate education. Amongst its famous students are the theologian, the Rev. Caleb Razafimino; and bio-chemist Professor Albert Ratsimamanga. Both of them are celebrated in Madagascar and have streets named after them. Ratsimamanga served as his country’s ambassador to France in the 1960s and early 70s.
“St Lawrence’s College has always been a pride and symbol of Anglicanism in Madagascar,” Bishop Samoela Jaona Ranarivelo told ACNS. “For many years, it has been ranked among the best denominational schools in the capital as well as in the whole country. But it has gradually declined since the two fires that struck it in 2005.”
Bishop Samoela said that the diocesan standing committee has now set new priorities for the college paving the way for a stable future, “but these require investment, personal commitment and good resource management.”
The new plan envisages a stable financial resource for the college. This will allow it to improve the performance of the college and increase student numbers. The plan anticipates that the school’s finances could be put on a secure footing after two or three school years.
But to get started it needs a cash injection of $30,000 USD (approximately £23,850 GBP) and has launched a crowd-funding campaign to raise it. In the long-term it is looking to build rental accommodation in the school’s grounds to produce income.
Antananarivo is the largest of the Anglican dioceses in Madagascar and the Province of the Indian Ocean. It has 200,000 baptised members.
“As the only diocesan school within the diocese of Antananarivo, St Lawrence’s College embodies the Anglican identity and the commitment of the church to the mission of God, striving to respond to its social vocation,” Bishop Samoela said. The diocese’s plans for the school will create “a new and safe space for our generation today, in sharing the love of Christ and bringing a renewed hope for our nation,” he said. “St Lawrence’s College continues to pay particular attention to certain disadvantaged students, but who show high potential for success in their studies.”
St Lawrence’s College is a general education institution serving pupils from three years old, in pre-primary classes, through to teenage years with students studying for baccalaureates.