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Career Guidance-Resolution of the Committee


FIRST REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON CREATION OF EXCELLENCE AND CAREER GUIDANCE

                                          IN INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION
                                                 OF THE SYRO MALABAR CHURCH
The Committee was constituted on conclusion of the Seminar on Higher Education which was held at St. Thomas Mount, Kakkanad on the 20th of July under the beneficent direction of His Eminence the Major Archbishop of the Syro Malbar Church. Proceedings of the Committee received the guidance and active support of Fr. George Madathiparambil, ex- Vicar general of the Syro Malabar eparchy in the US. Members of the Committee comprising Senior Teachers and Administrators of institutions of higher education held detailed discussions and shared their rich experiences in the light of guiding principles elucidated in the course of the seminar and further illuminated in the light of papal encyclicals and other important pronouncements of the Church brought to its attention through the efforts of Rev. Fr. George who moderated the discussions. The following exhortations contained in Papal Encyclicals provided the central focus in the Committee’s deliberations:
The Document on Education of the Second Vatican Council proclaimed by Pope Paul the VIth on 28th October, 1965 called upon Catholic educational institutions not to be remarkable for its numbers, but for their pursuit of knowledge and reminded them of their duty to do all they can,  “to promote for all peoples the complete perfection of the human person”.
In a similar vein, Pope Paul II in his celebrated encyclical “Ex Corde Ecclesiae” issued in August 1999 emphasized the mandate of Catholic institutions to, “explore courageously the riches of revelation and of nature so that the united endeavor of intelligence and faith will enable people to come to the full measure of their humanity, created in the image and likeness of God”.
The CBCI document entitled “All India Catholic Education Policy” and issued on May 25th 2007 has also characterized education as ‘an essential tool for the full development of individuals and empowerment of people’. It said emphatically, “The Church sees education as an agent of transformation”. In a striking phrase, Pope John Paul described a catholic educational institution as embodying “the fecundity of the Christian mind in the heart of every culture”.
Drawing inspiration from such profound and enlightening pronouncements, the Committee set down to itself the task of attempting to identify those areas of the Christian educational system of the Syro Malabar Church that need ‘the united endeavor of intelligence and faith to enable people to come to the full measure of their humanity’ and to ‘promote the complete perfection of the human person’, as insightfully articulated in the Papal Encyclicals and reiterated in exhortations by the CBCI. The primary focus for the Committee therefore remained rooted in exploring to what extent the twin pursuits of intellectual development and moral and ethical edification of the young have been receiving the highest priority in the educational endeavors of Catholic institutions and to recommend suitable  remedial measures if, in case, it is found these preeminent principles and objectives have not been steadily kept in view in formulating schemes of study and in the formation of character and personality of the young. The following analysis of the current system of education emerges from discussions held:
1.       Faculties of critical reflection and analysis that are fundamental in mental development and intellectual refinement remain stunted because of over- dependence on learning by rote;
2.       Communications skills remain undeveloped as the examination system provides no incentive or reward for acquiring such skills and on the contrary, tend to discourage efforts in this direction;
3.       Emotional maturity and inter personal relations do not figure in the scheme of instruction which remains confined to promoting ruthless competition and the pursuit of individual ambition;
4.       Individual aptitudes and natural inclinations of the young are disregarded in the obsessive preoccupation with securing their entry into professions that promise early monetary gains;
5.       Ethical and moral orientation and adherence to value systems are often perceived as irrelevant to education and, in adulthood, as impediments to individual success and material progress;
6.       Social Sciences and the Humanities, as also language studies that promote a humanistic culture and a liberal outlook are often excluded from the scheme of studies in schools and colleges.
The Committee found after detailed deliberations that the reasons for distortions that have crept into the objectives and practices of higher education are a complex mixture of societal, familial and individual value systems that have been heavily influenced by the market economy and the prevailing consumerist culture on the one hand and the lack of educational innovation and reform, compounded by ideological aberrations of political leadership, on the other. While several among such serious distortions are not immediately amenable to Church intervention, certain important aspects of the problem have emerged from the discussions and call for remedial action at the level of teachers and managements of higher education. These are briefly indicated below:
(a)    The blind pursuit of the so called professional courses stems partly from ignorance about alternative  career opportunities available to the young;
(b)   Lack of guidance at the appropriate stage is responsible for students opting for courses that are not in consonance with their natural aptitudes and unsuited to their personal inclinations;
(c)    Graduate and post graduates often fail to secure employment because of the neglect of language study, both at school and in college;
(d)   Failure in competitive examinations results mainly from neglect of newspaper reading and ignorance about current affairs;
(e)   Teachers fail to provide guidance partly from lack of training and orientation and partly from want of incentives and encouragement for making such extra efforts;
(f)     Teachers further fail to provide information about career opportunities and to prepare students for competition because teachers themselves do not read widely and follow up events regularly and studiously with the serious intention to keep students updated about important developments in the nation’s economy, polity, society and environment.
The Committee is of the considered view that unless remedial measures are urgently undertaken, the current drift and lack of direction that cripple the initiative and enthusiasm of educated youth can lead to a disastrous situation of social instability and insecurity. Huge numbers of the young who enter colleges every year( over 2.5 lakhs in 2012)raise the specter of unemployment and the resultant social turmoil and instability in an era of the affluence of the few and the scramble for glamorous possessions that globalization and the market economy constantly and unremittingly display to the young.
One important concern of the colleges, the parents and of the community as a whole remains to be considered; that is the serious erosion of ethical and moral values among the youth. The materialistic philosophy espoused by the market economy has undoubtedly taken hold of their minds and has altered their perspectives on values in life. Reasons are too well known to require reiteration; what is more to the present purpose is to see if college education can be made congenial for the growth of a positive attitude towards religious and ethical values and to counter  the onslaught of the venality and the materialism of the market economy. The only agents of change, if higher education is to be transformational as envisaged by the CBCI, are teachers to whom the idealist young look up to for inspiration and guidance in moral conflict as well as in their academic crises. Attitudinal orientation of teachers as regards their moral responsibilities to the young is easier said than done. The Committee is of the view that the teaching community needs to be frequently exposed to orientation courses for moral and ethical edification and for incentivizing active promotion of values among students.
On the basis of its detailed discussions and studies of related literature available on the subject of reforms in higher education, the Committee would like to make the following suggestions and recommendations for consideration of the Synod of the Syro Malabar Church:
1.       There is an urgent need to reorient Catholic institutions as regards their prevailing preference for professional education and to promote in them an appreciation of the humanizing influence of the liberal arts and the social sciences so that young students are encouraged to take up study of socially significant subjects and to follow their natural aptitudes in choosing courses and  careers, rather than blindly follow popular trends or succumb to monetary considerations;
2.       Professional help by qualified and experienced psychological counselors be provided in every college, if possible, for help of students to identify their aptitudes and to help tide over personal and emotional crises;
3.       A few teachers to be trained in every institution to study emerging career opportunities and their skill requirements so that student talent can be meaningfully matched at the time of selection of courses at the time of admission and for selection of careers on completion of study
4.       Teachers selected for career guidance be paid adequate monetary compensation and rewards for specialized training and work;
5.       Principals of all colleges may be assembled to secure their whole hearted cooperation in improving quality of instruction and motivation of students and asked to depute teachers in charge of career guidance to undergo orientation camp at a central location.
6.       Leadership camps be organized for selected students who may be expected to serve as change agents and catalysts for promoting the pursuit of excellence in the student community at large.
The Committee earnestly believes that these initiatives will help in bringing about an attitudinal change on the part of all stake holders and set in motion a process of reform that can improve the overall academic environment and infuse a culture of purposeful education that aims at the promotion of excellence while at the same time sustaining an unflagging faith in values.
Abraham Kurien IPS, Chairman of the Committee.  Marian College, Dated 20thJuly, 2012.









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