Jean-Paul Kamba, SJ – Lubumbashi, DRC & English Africa Service – Vatican City
Mwapusukeni Technical College, located in Lubumbashi, in the south-eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, opened its doors seven years ago.
Rescuing young people for a more productive life
In ciBemba, a language spoken around Lubumbashi in the DRC and neighbouring Zambia, Mwapusukeni comes from the verb “ukupusuka.” This means “to escape, survive or to rescue from danger.” Mwapusukeni is, therefore, a phrase addressed to someone who has just escaped an unfortunate or challenging situation; someone who has just been pulled out of danger or rescued before they could drown -literally or metaphorically. For a technical college to bear this name is both a challenge and an ambitious mission. The technical college’s aim is to become an educational institution that moulds students for a productive future, thus rescuing and empowering them for life. By mastering professional technique, the student graduating from Mwapusukeni will thus be trained to make a living for himself and family but also will be an asset for the region and t nation. He or she will contribute to the development of the DRC.
Mwapusukeni Technical College came into being as a donation from the couple, Carine and Moise Katumbi, then Governor of what was known as the Katanga Province.
Educating young people is a priority for Jesuits
The education of young people is an integral part of the mission of the Society of Jesus, wherever the Jesuits are to be found. The Society has a long tradition of this, said the Mwapusukeni Director. It constitutes one of the four Universal Apostolic Preferences (To accompany young people in the creation of a hope-filled future) that the Jesuits gave to themselves in in 2019, added Fr Senker.
Mwapusukeni Technical College is a mixed school with an intake of about twenty per cent being girls. It aims to offer necessary technical training for young technicians and artisans. When everything is finally in place, the planned overall structure for Mwapusukeni, will be one that consists of the primary cycle (nursery & primary school); secondary school and the technical sections. Already in operation are the Automotive mechanics; Metal construction and the Industrial electronics departments. Plans are also underway to introduce specialised classes in plumbing, welding, electricity and IT.
Working in harmony with the Archdiocese of Lubumbashi
Asked about the response of the community to the technical college, Fr. Senker believes that the presence and contribution of the Jesuits is part and parcel of the pastoral vision of the Archdiocese of Lubumbashi.
“The echoes which reach us, and the results obtained to date prove, if need be, that the complementary contribution of the Society of Jesus in the educational sector in Lubumbashi is appreciated,” he said.
Challenges are never lacking. The main ones are twofold: The first is the formation of both learners and formators in terms of skilled technical know-how. This challenge is being overcome by way of constant and ongoing training as well as updating of skills. The second, continues Fr. Senker, concerns the expensive cost of running a technical school, especially a private school, that does not benefit from any state subsidy. Fr. Senker appeals to people of goodwill to support the efforts of the college.
“In the case of a country like the Democratic Republic of Congo, having quality technicians is an asset for the nations’ development,” he emphasised.