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Conference on Higher Education in Kerala-Summary of the Talks


Summary of the discussions and talks of the Conference on Higher Education in Kerala held on June 30,12

H.G. Mar Aandrews Thazhath, in his Presidential address, talked about the hesitations and questionings in the minds of many people with regard to the role of the Church in the field of education when the Church is being opposed by people hostile to its ministry in the educational sector.
He found the answer to such hesitancies in the words of Jesus when He asked his disciples to teach and to heal. As it is the primary duty of the Church to teach and to heal, it would always get involved in the field of education and never run away from its responsibility in this field. Even though  for a time the Church experienced a lot of hardships in the running of its institutions, later the role of the Church  was acknowledged because  it  stood by certain principles and also was functioning within the ambit of the protection given by the Minority Rights enshrined  in the Constitution.
He bemoaned the lack of autonomy for colleges and the absence of Deemed universities or a Private University in Kerala. Explicating the Educational policy of the CBCI as detailed in its  Document in 2007, he mentioned the need for Quality, Values  and Affordability in our educational system.
Quoting the words of Pope Benedict XVl, he said the purpose of education is “to become what you are”. The Pope then defined that our identity comes from being the children of God. So the purpose of education is to make one a better person.
The Church cannot, hence, shirk its responsibility in the field of education but has to continue to be present with vigor and enthusiasm.
The Major Archbishopin his Inaugural Address emphasized the role of the Church in education as part of its evangelical mission. The mission of the Church is to be a light to the world and that mission has to continue unabated. He added that the Church had played an important role in Education which was evident from the great investment the Church put through men and material resources in the educational development of India. The role of the Church to spearhead educational progress has inspired other communities to work in this field.
H.B. wanted the participants to reflect on the educational policy of the CBCI and examine their commitment in the light of the KCBC reflections on that document.
He wanted the other Churches too to reflect on their roles in the light of these documents so that a common policy can be arrived at.
H.B. mentioned the need for an annual conference to evaluate our role and ministry in the field of education  and  asked the participants to express their views openly so that all can work with more conviction and commitment in this field.
Justice Cyriac Josephin his key-note speech mentioned that the Church sees education as an agent of transformation.
 The importance the Church gives to education is seen from the fact that the church has invested heavily in education.
These educational institutions are the result of our hard effort and we should be proud of them. But there are some criticisms of the management of these institutions. Those mistakes have to be rectified.
We are gathered at a time when there are a lot of people questioning the role of the Church in the field of education.
He mentioned the recent observation of the High court with regard to low pass performance of some of the engineering colleges. If the Catholic colleges are in this group, ways have to be devised to improve their standards.
Are our young people capable of passing Civil Service exams?
He sees a slow diminution of the meaning of Minority rights in some of the recent decisions of the court. No more it is possible to expect the kind of protection that was available in the past.
Some may ask why the minorities should have special protection when the majority is not endowed with such a protection.
But just because we experience difficulties, we cannot just abdicate the protection that is given to us through the Minority rights.
We have to understand the content and breadth of the minority rights. These rights make the minority not only to enjoy equality in law but also in fact.
Our institutions are reputed for the high quality of education .But this quality should be Christian. Quality should be shown as a Christian value. There should be a training of the heart.
Our emphasis should not be on the beauty of the buildings, but on the building up of the character of the students. It is the inner beauty that is to be emphasized.
The Catholic institutions should never seek donations for admissions or appointments.
We should never run our institutions abdicating our Christina values.
We should also emphasize programs outside the syllabus—Non-formal education should be given a role.
Organizations for the development of the Christina leadership should be encouraged. KCSL, AICUF etc have to be re-energized.
We need more value-oriented teachers---Teachers' guilds and Newman associations etc have to be promoted.
Catholic hostels have a role to play and they should be promoted.
Teachers in private colleges should not be allowed to have political roles. They should be free from party politics.

Abp.Mar Joseph Powthil,speaking on the relevance of the Church  in education emphasized the responsibility of the parents in the matter of choosing the right method of education for their children. Catholic education is a right that is given under the freedom of religion. The parents have the right to send their children to Catholic schools and convey their faith to the children.
The Church has a role to play for the society and it has to work towards developing the integral growth of every human being.
It is the responsibility of the Church to give Catholic education.
The Church has an obligation to the society to work for the development of the people.
The special feature of the Catholic education is that it is oriented towards the development of the whole person.
Marxian philosophy  deals only  with the material aspects of human life and hence is one sided.
We have to seek our roots. Without knowing the roots, we cannot be a part of the whole. The destruction of the roots would definitely destroy the whole too.
We have to be always vigilant to protect our rights.
Dr. Babu Josephstressed the need for autonomy for the colleges of Kerala.
Introduction of autonomy will solve a lot of problems in the educational sector. Certain level of excellence is needed in order for the colleges to attain autonomy.
We have 374 autonomous colleges in 19 states.
The advantage of autonomy is that the colleges get administrative and academic freedom.
There are also two other levels of University Education in the planning of the Central Government: Deemed Universities and Innovative Universities.
14 innovative universities are planned by the Govt.
In the session on Catholic Education—Principles and Values, Dr. Ruble Raj dealt with the values and philosophy of Christian education.
Education is not just  a cultural process; it is also a spiritual duty.
Quoting the CBCI document of 2007, he mentioned that education is a transforming process. This transformation is spiritual, liberal and humanizing.
We have guided missiles but misguided young people.
Education liberates us from selfishness, egoism, narrow-mindedness and superstition.
Five Cs of Education in the CBCI document:
Character formation, Competence,Conscience,compassion and commitment.
The presence of a chapel in the campus adds to the Catholic character of the college.
Gospel love should permeate the campus. It involves giving love, sharing love and the  recognition of  human dignity.
Two cities as symbols—Nineveh and Tarshish.
Catholic colleges should be like Nineveh.
Abraham Kurien stressed the need to train students for jobs that are suitable for their aptitudes.
Mad pursuit of professions erodes their values.
 A One year separate course is needed to make the students well prepared for the choice of their careers.
Fr.Tomy Padinjareveettil, Dr.Joseph Framcis, Joseph Mathew, Fr.Chalil ,Fr.Kariyil,Dr.Joselet and Prof.Menacherry intervened during the  discussion on this matter.
Mr. P.T.Kuriakose intervened to say that there was a perception problem and some of our institutions are seen as centers of extortion. We have to establish our credibility. Evangelization is the mission of the Church.
Prof .K. T .Sebastian pointed out the credibility gap at the heart of our education ministry. He also added that because of the lack of creativity, our colleges are stagnating.
The Major Archbishop wanted further discussions and consultation on six lines of action and wanted small committees to work in six groups to make their presentation on those six lines of actions.
The Six committees are the following:
Career Guidance and General Excellence
On line courses
Partnerships with Foreign Universities
Private University
Probity in Administration and Minority Rights
Ethical Values
Fr.George Madathiparampil in his introductory speech outlined the main themes of the Conference underlining the great contribution the Church made in the field of Higher Education and stressed the need to move forward with a new vision, retaining the great heritage of the past.He urged the participants to live locally but to think globally. He also added that diversity is wealth but division is the way to destruction.
Prof. Stephen Mathewsexplained through a power point presentation prepared by Vince Marin of Chicago  the need for partnership Foreign Universities.
Prof. Raju Georgeof Mary Matha College proposed the vote of thanks. Dr Beena Manoj of St. Teresa’s college coordinated meeting.



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