July 07, 2011: BOOK ON YOUTH LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME RELEASED
Fr. Varghese Paul, SJ
AHMEDABAD (SAR News)
Archbishop Stanislaus Fernandes, SJ of Gandhinagar released a unique book entitled “Youth Leadership Development Programme ‘Education Plus’” here in Jai Chemical-Xavier Research Hall, St. Xavier’s College Campus on July 6, 2011. The book is the outcome of a joint venture of St. Xavier’s College, Ahmedabad Catholic Relief Services (CRS).
In a power-point presentation the coordinator of ‘Jagrat’ programme Fr. (Dr.) Lancy D’Cruz, SJ explained that in 1980 St. Xavier’s College changed its admission policy and began to give more admissions to students from disadvantaged backgrounds like the tribals and from backward classes. Soon the College realized that it is not enough to give such students admission but they needed accompaniment. So in 1986-87 St. Xavier’s College started ‘Jagrat’ activities with remedial programmes to give extra care to these students to develop their self-confidence and leadership qualities. Jagrat activities also called for empowering the staff personnel. So a three-day workshop was organized for the faculty members at IRMA, a management institute for rural leadership training.
“Over the last few years St. Xavier’s College in active collaboration with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) designed and documented Jagrat activities. The result is the book Youth Leadership Development Programme ‘Education Plus’,” said Fr. D’Cruz. He said that the book can be used by any institution of learning to empower their students coming from disadvantaged families and communities.
The programme put conscious emphasis on learning through creative methodologies. The focus of the programme has been to ensure that the students are not alienated from their home and community background. On the contrary, the programme helped the students to contribute to the betterment of their communities with their newly acquired knowledge and skills. Fr. Lancy D’Cruz concluded the power-point presentation saying that many students opted for studying MSW (Management in Social Works) instead of pursuing PTC or Bed studies.
Speaking as the Chief Guest, the Jesuit Provincial, Fr. Jose Changanacherry recalled his association with St. Xavier’s College as a student and later a science professor and vice principal of the College. He expressed his wish that not only the students and staff personnel of the College but also many others would use the book for youth leadership development activities.
“Whatever you do, do it better and more”, advised Fr. Changanacherry recalling the Ignatian maxim ‘Magis’. The Jesuit Provincial asked the students to aim excellence and relevance in all their studies and other activities. Quoting former President of India Dr. A. P J. Abdul Kalam, Fr. Changanacherry said that the role of education is to ignite the minds of boys and girls.
Archbishop Stanislaus Fernandes in his speech recalled that he was in the College four years back for the inauguration of ‘Jagrat’ programme. “We have come a long way and the partnership between St. Xavier’s College and CRS is a model for all of us,” said the Archbishop. He emphasized the importance of accompanying the students and people leading them to spiritual renaissance. He called for empowering oneself and one’s community and neighbourhood.
The Archbishop expressed the hope that the ideas and activities contained in the book would benefit not only the university level students but also the children in schools.
Speaking on the occasion a faculty member Ishwar Mehra narrated his own transforming experience in the leadership development workshops and visiting students and staying in their houses in remote interior tribal villages. “CRS gave us new skills and we were able to put into practice what we have learned. My attitude and approach to the students changed drastically after visiting and staying in the houses our students,” acknowledged Prof. Mehra.
A student representative also spoke in the function and said that his life was formed by ‘Jagrat’ activities. “I have gained confidence in myself and in my abilities and have developed my leadership qualities,” he said.
The function started with a prayer dance. Then, the Principal of the College Dr. Vincent Braganza, SJ welcomed the Archbishop Fernandes, the Chief Guest, Fr. Changanacherry and other special invitees and the large member of students to the book releasing function.
The tribal students made the programme very interesting with an energetic tribal dance.
The double crown-size book is hard bound and has 144 pages including 8 pages of colour photos of showing activities, meetings, workshops and of exposure programmes. The book in the Self-Help Category is divided into 3 sections, and 7 Modules with 6 Annexes.