Jesuit Education and Networking By Dr. J. Felix Raj, SJ

INDIA : Jesuit Education and Networking By Dr. J. Felix Raj, SJ (CNUA)
(Speech delivered at JAAI CONFERENCE St. Joseph’s College, Trichy - January 17 - 19, 2020)
Felix Raj
Felix Raj,Vice Chancellor at St. Xavier's University, Kolkata
Introduction:  Education  is  the  most  powerful  mechanism,  with  which  we  can  transform  the  world.  The sustained economic development of any country is directly determined by its education system.  Education  is  a  Nation’s  health  and  wealth.  A  progressive  nation  is  inevitably  an  educated nation.  Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today. And so, investment in education pays the best interest. The aim is to form quality leaders, local and  global,  with  strong  human  and  spiritual  values.  And  this  necessitates  network  among educational institutions for the benefit of larger community. With  a  world  population  of  7.80  billion  people,  we,  as  individuals  and  societies  need  to  live together sustainably and harmoniously. We need to act responsibly based on the understanding that  what  we  do  today  can  have  implications  on  the lives  of  people  and  the  planet  in  future. Educational  network  empowers  people  to  change  the  way  they  think  and  work  towards  a sustainable and harmonious future.

2.Jesuit Education: Educational apostolate has been synonymous with the mission of the Society of Jesus right from its  inception.  The  origin  of  the  Society  itself  in 1535  was  in  an  academic  milieu,  at  the University of Paris. At that time Europe was a web of kingdoms, and Paris was one of the great centers  of  learning.  Instead  of  pursuing  fame  and  fortune  in  the  service  of  earthly  kings, Ignatius  of  Loyola  and  his  fellow  students  chose  to  be  "Companions  of  Jesus"  for  the  Greater Glory of God. The Indian mission of the Jesuits lies at the very origin of their Order. It is to India that Ignatiusof Loyola, the Founder of the Jesuit Order sent his greatest son, Francis Xavier in 1542, and to him  and  his  collaborators,  he  gave  that  inspiration  and  those  directives,  which  became  the foundation of the Jesuit mission and method in India. Xavier was a zealous "missionary on the move".  He  worked  in  India  for  ten  years,  from  1542 to  1552,  which  is  called  the  ‘Xaverian decade’.  India  has  also  been  the  birthplace  of  missionary  theories  and  the  testing  ground  of missionary policies. Francis  Xavier  sowed  the  seeds  of  Jesuit  education in  Asia.  St.  Paul’s  College,  Goa,  entrusted by  the  Portuguese  to  the  Jesuits,  under  the  zealous  leadership  of  Xavier  in  1544,  was  the  first Jesuit educational institution in the world. It laid the foundation and became the birthplace for a worldwide educational network that  emphasizes  the essential connection between learning  and faith and values. The later Jesuits carried on the legacy of  Francis Xavier after the Restoration of the Society of Jesus through their academic, scholarly and scientific pursuits. Jesuit  involvement  in  education  in  India  has  a  precious  history  and  heritage.  It  is  part  of  the larger  global  educational  network.  The  Jesuits  have  been  pioneers  and  vanguards  in  providing education  to  the  rural  poor,  dalits  and  tribals.  By  opening  the  doors  of  their  institutions  to  all, irrespective   of   caste,   creed,   language   and   sex,   the   Jesuits   have   exerted   a   healthy   and harmonious  influence  on  the  educational  system  of  India,  and  the  mood  resonates  beyond  its boundaries. The  Jesuit  educational  initiative  is  the  largest  private  network  in  the  world  today.  There  are 3,960 educational institutions of various types in the world (schools, colleges, universities etc.) with 1, 41,000 teachers and 3.15 million students.

Loyola College, Chennai
Perhaps the best-quality education in India is imparted by Jesuits who conduct not less than 66 HE  institutions  (including  two  universities),  18  Institutes  of  Business  Administration  and  200 high  schools  spread  throughout  the  country,  almost all  of  them  among  its  most  reputed.    In them, more than 4, 10,000 students belonging to every religious, linguistic and socio-economic group, receive their education under the mentorship of around 12,200 teachers. 3.The Impact of Jesuit Education: Jesuits  have  contributed  immensely,  through  education  and  research,  to  the  character  building of India and other Asian countries; whereby they have secured a place of pride and prominence for themselves and for the Church. Their vision and mission have formed men and women for others.  Their  contributions  have  been,  time  and  again,  applauded  by  the  leaders,  philosophers, thinkers,  educationists  and  people  of  India  and  have  become  milestones  in  the  history  of enlightenment of races through cultural and spiritual upliftment. -The  Jesuit  education  has  revolutionized  the  academic  scenario  of  India  tempering  the system  of  imparting  education  with  values  that  have  become  integral  to  human  life  and history. -Christian and secular societies have borrowed and adopted Jesuit educational methods. -Jesuit education reached out to all, disregarding class, creed and prejudice particularly to the marginalized. -Jesuit education, because of its uncompromising quality is the most sought after all over the world. And the Jesuit institutions rank highest across countries.
St. Xavier's College, Kolkata 
3 -Jesuit  education  is  holistic  –  forming  men  and  women  for  others  –  providing  a  social dimension to education. Jesuit  education  emphasizes  lay  collaboration,  sharing  the  spiritual  heritage  and  pedagogy with the lay collaborators, preparing them for democratic and shared governance structures. -In  the  South  Asian  context,  Jesuit  education  promotes  interreligious  dialogue  between different religions -Jesuit  alumni  and  alumnae  have  grown  up  to  become  leaders  and  have  influenced  various national and international spheres of activities in the spirit of Magis. -Former  Prime  Minister,  Dr.  Manmohan  Singh  had  applauded  the  works  of  the  Jesuits (January  10,  2010  at  St.  Xavier’s  College,  Kolkata):  ‘...The  Jesuit  missionaries  chose  the path  of  education  in  India  and  reached  out  to  the  hearts  and  minds  of  the  Indian  people... Jesuit  institutions  provide  all-round  education  to the  rich  and  poor,  to  the  privileged  and under-privileged and to the children of all faiths and religions...’
Sophia University, Tokyo 
4. Jesuit Educational Network: By network, within a Jesuit context, we mean individual Jesuits / their co-workers or Jesuit institutions or their sister institutions, decide to collectively associate and cooperate, leading to concrete actions for a purpose or variety of purposes. -Jesuit  network is a way  of proceeding,  an accepted style of Jesuit apostolic  venture, a way of enhancing apostolic efficacy beyond one’s known/prescribed boundaries of mission.  
Various aspects of Networking include:  
1. Reasons for Networking
2. Types and levels of networking
3. Approval and Recognition
4.  Grounds for membership
5. Freedom to belong and take part
6. Mode of exchange of information
7. Structures of Co-ordination and governance
5. The reasons for network: ‘Networks  are  a  facilitating  structure  of  common  discernment  that  allows  us  to  be  attentive, listen,  and  at  the  same  time  learn,  permeate  and  reveal  the  dynamics  of  participation  and engagement  between  institutions  and  people  around  our  shared  mission.’ (2nd  Conference  on Jesuit Networks) Jesuits work and therefore network < > Jesuits network in order to work. a.Networking helps to connect with colleagues and with institutions; b.It helps to properly position our resources for mutual benefit;
Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome 
4 c.It  opens  new  avenues  to  share  our  ideas  and  find  new  roles  and  ways  of  implementing them; d.Networking is a great opportunity to exchange knowledge of best practices, learn about the education techniques of our peers and stay abreast of the latest developments; e.Regular networking within our areas of work helps us to progress in our mission; f.A wide network of informed, interconnected contacts and collaborations means broader access to new and valuable information; g.Nurturing  relationships  with  our  fellow  institutions  is  mutually  beneficial.  It  raises  our professional  profile  and  broadens  our  access  to  opportunities  and  deepens  our  trust  to face challenges; h.Networking  builds  invaluable  social  skills  and  self-confidence  that  can  be  taken anywhere.  The  more  we  network,  the  more  we’ll  grow and  learn  how  to  make  lasting and impactful connections; i.It is a strategy for mutual expansion. As it is a competitive world out there, we need to stand together to face the challenges.

6.Guidelines for Networking in the Society of Jesus: The Society of Jesus, through General Congregations and Jesuit Generals and Major Superiors, has proposed various orientations and guidelines from time to time emphasizing the importance of  networking  in  the  Order  and  its  various  works.  I  present  a  brief  over-view  of  these guidelines. 1.GC  34  (Decree  21)  held  in  1995  asked  the  Society  to  recognize  its  own  vocation  as  an international apostolic body called to develop global and regional networking.  Although numerous regional and international networks already exist, to exploit more fully the  immense  possibilities,  additional  global  and  regional  networks  must  be  created.  Such networks  of  persons  and  institutions  should  be  capable  of  addressing  global  concerns through    support,    sharing    of    information,    planning    and    evaluation,    or    through implementation of projects that cannot easily be carried out within Province structures.... This directive and indeed desire were taken up at Loyola  2000, where the Major  Superiors endorsed  networking.  GC  34  and  Loyola  2000  embraced  this  new  apostolic  way  of proceeding, probably thanks to a shared appreciation of networking as an authentic sign of the  times  in  the  sense  meant  by  Vatican  II:  something  new,  emerging  simultaneously  in different  places,  something  both  challenging  and  promising  in  the  light  of  the  Gospel, something reaching out beyond the borders of the Church. In  2008,  the  35th  General  Congregation  identified  the  challenges  of  globalization  to  the mission of the Society of Jesus and, at the same time, highlighted the potentialities of being and   acting   as   a   universal   body.   International   and   interprovincial   collaboration   and networking   have   been   marked   as   the   ways   to   do   it.   ‘We   encourage   the   Society’s government, at all levels, to explore means by which more effective networking might take place...’ The  1st  Conference  on  Jesuit  Networking  was  held  in  April  2012  at Boston  College,  USA on  the  theme,  “Challenges  from  a  Universal  Mission”.  This  conference  brought  together religious  and  lay  people,  academicians,  and  practitioners  from  apostolic  works  and  from different  levels  of  Jesuit  structures  of  governance,  to  initiate  a  line  of  reflection  on  the opportunities and ways to develop international networking in the Ignatian family; given the challenges that globalization poses to the universal body of the Society of Jesus.  

The  main  goals  of  the  conference  were: 

a)  to  identify  and  analyze  the  main  initiatives  that already  exist  or  are  developing  in  the  SJ; 
b)  to  analyze  the  key  aspects  for  Jesuit international  networking  and  identify  concrete  problems  and  questions  that  should  be addressed; 
c)  to  present  concrete  proposals  and  recommendations  for  developing  and improving international networking in the Society of Jesus. In 2016, the 36th General Congregation continued this reflection highlighting even more the importance  of  Networking  as  one  of  the  key  perspectives  in  our  contemporary  way  of proceeding, encouraging the different governing bodies of the Society of Jesus to “actively facilitate, foster, accompany and evaluate international and regional networks.”
As  GC36th  posed  it,  there  is  a  clear  need  for  research,  systematization  and  formulation  of challenges  and potentials of the Jesuit international network of institutions  in order to ease and maximize its impact as a transnational body with a clear universal mission. Two years after the 36th GC and five years later to the first conference, a second conference was  organized  in  February  2018  at  Georgetown  University,  in  order  to  continue  the conversation  and  catalyze  the  connections  of  the  practitioners,  researchers  and  governance officials of the Society of Jesus. Building on the success of the first Jesuit Networking Conference of 2012, this conference aims  to:  i)  Deepen  discussions  among  key  stakeholders  by  engaging  academic  experts  on networking;  ii) Examine and evaluate networking initiatives that are already underway or in the  planning  stage;  iii)  Identify  key  obstacles  to successful  Jesuit  networking  and  specific ways  to  address  them;  iv)  Produce  a  final  document with  concrete  recommendations  for Jesuit networking and v) Share its conclusions with the Task Force in Rome. The   wide   experience   of   the   participants   encompassed   global   and   regional   networks including:  Fe  y  Alegría,  Jesuit  Refugee  Service,  Global  Ignatian  Advocacy  Networks, Educate  Magis,  Xavier  Network,  Jesuit  Networking,  International  Association  of  Jesuit Business  Schools,  Colleges  in  Jesuit  Business  Education,  Alpha  Sigma  Nu,  Ignatian Solidarity Network, Christian Life Community and World Union of Jesuit Alumnae. 2.In response to the regional and global concerns and based on the guidelines of the Society of Jesus  through  Congregations  and  Conferences,  the  Jesuits  have  developed  global  and regional  networks  in  many  areas  –  education,  social,  pastoral,  communication,  research, youth, refugees, indigenous people,  development studies and so on. 3. For  example,  we  have  in  the  field  of  education,  networks  like  –  Jesuit  Educational Association (JEA), Jesuit Alumni Association of India, Xavier Board, All India Association of Christian Higher Education, World Union of Jesuit Alumni etc.
4.There are 82 Jesuit related networks at the global level.  ‘They  are  weaving  Structures  of  collaboration  –  creating  a  space  to  foster  international networking among Jesuit institutions.’ 7.Most of these networks function within the purview of Common Minimum Programmes – with minimum objectives or activities of networking between members. 8.Urgent Need for Effective Networks: ‘Networks are a structural response to a renewed mission that needs structures, processes, and strategies to be developed.’(2nd Conference on Jesuit Networks) a)Indian education system: In  the  existing  global  and  regional  contexts  today and  particularly  in  the  context  of  the  Indian educational  scenario,  we  are  called  to  promote  regional,  national  and  apostolic  networks  for peace and harmony. And the existing networks need to be strengthened. I place before you the various arguments for effective networking in the field of education and Alumni Associations in our Assistancy. The  education  system  in  India  is  the  third  largest in  the  world,  next  to  the  United  States  and China. Knowledge is power. The more knowledge we promote, the more empowered we are as individuals and as a nation.  i.As of today, even after 75 years of our independence, we have only 86 million graduates in India (8.5 % of the total population)

There   are   921   Universities   and   59480   Colleges   of   all   types   (including   Stand-alone institutions) with 36 million students. ii.India is one of the few youngest countries in the world:- 65% of India’s population is within the working age group of 18 to 59. The young people are the pride and future of India. -  Dr.  Abdul  Kalam  said  that  our  young  people  must  become  ignited  minds  of  India, unleashing the power within them. iii.Gross Enrolment Ratio target in Higher Education: The  12th  Plan  Document  had  fixed  targets  of  25.2  % GER  by  2017-18  and  30%  GER  by 2020-21.   As per All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) 2017-18, the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education is 25.6%. NEP 2019 envisages: increase GER to at least 50% by 2035. iv.New Education Policy 2019 Consolidation of current 800 (921) universities and 40,000 colleges into about 15,000 large, well-resourced, vibrant multidisciplinary institutions All higher education institutions to be consolidated into three types of institutions: -

Research Universities - equal focus on research and teaching - Teaching Universities - primary focus on teaching with significant focus on research - Autonomous degree-granting colleges - almost exclusive focus on teaching b.Private Universities: Universities    in    India,    whether    Central/State/Private,    are    established    by    different State/Central acts and adhere to the provisions laid down in the UGC ACT 1956. According to the laws, State Universities are of affiliating nature while private ones are unitary (single entity).  Private Universities operate as per the State Act within the territorial boundaries of the State where  it  is  established.  A  private  university  will be  allowed  to  start  off-campuses,  study centers and off-shore campuses only after a period of five years. The private sector is strong and potent in Indian higher education. This has been partly due to Government’s decision to encourage private investment and participation. Different state assemblies  took  advantage  of  this  initiative  and  passed  private  university  bills.  Only universities  established  by  the  Central  or  State  Acts  or  higher  education  institutions empowered by the Parliament to confer or grant degrees are entitled to award degrees. In  2005  there  were  only  20  private  universities.  But  as  of  today  we  have  340  private universities. 78% of colleges in India are private colleges; of them 64 per cent are unaided and only 14 per cent are aided colleges.  
It  is  a  fact  that  there  has  been  a  quantum  leap  in the  number  of  universities  which  are  the temples of learning. It shows that there is a huge scope for the role of private universities as India  has  a  huge  potential  in  terms  of  opportunities  in  higher  education.  There  is  a  huge demand for quality learning with a wider choice of subjects and an assurance of placement. Private universities can meet this challenge. There is a felt need for independence and autonomy for HE institutions to emerge as world class  centers  of  knowledge.  As  public  expenditures are  insufficient  and  public  institutions suffer  from  political  interference  and  government  control,  private  participation  becomes necessary. c.Catholic and Jesuit Universities in India: “Networking allows for the deployment of new types of strategies that are attentive to local diversity  but  open  to  the  benefits  of  international  scale  and  coordination.”  (2nd  Conference on Jesuit Networks) Jesuit  networking  is  a  strategy  for  mutual  expansion  and  steady  progress  in  our  mission. Establishment  of  private  universities  or  upgradation  of  existing  colleges  is  a  method  of networking in the field of higher education.

There  are  5  Catholic  Universities  in  India:  1.  Assam  Don  Bosco  University,  Guwahati;  2. Christ  University,  Bangalore;  3.  Xavier  University,  Bhubaneswar;  4.  St  Xavier  University, Kolkata; and 5. St Joseph University, Dimapur. We  have  as  of  now  two  Jesuit  Universities  in  India:  1.  Xavier  University,  Bhubaneshwar and 2. St. Xavier’s University, Kolkata. Kolkata  Experience:  The  Jesuits  in  Kolkata  responded  to  an  invitation  from  the  Hon’ble CM, Mamata Banerjee and started the St. Xavier’s University, Kolkata. We tried with many options: 

a)  To upgrade the existing aided St.  Xavier’s  College to  a university status, but because of some  technical  problems  relating  to  minority  status  and  state  aid,  we  had  to  give  up  that option. 
b) We proposed a public- private partnership model. This model did not work out.
 c) St. Xavier’s College was selected as one of the 35 colleges for upgradation under RUSA scheme. But even after two meetings between MHRD and SXC, the proposal did not come through. Finally we decided to go private way and submitted out proposal (LoI) to the State Government of West Bengal. The  Bengal  government  was  very  cooperative  and  did all  it  could.  The  Hon’ble  Chief Minister  herself  took  keen  interest  in  establishing  this  Jesuit  University.  The  Government gave  us  17  acres  of  land  at  New  Town.  Earlier  we  had  acquired  from  the  Govt.  6  acres  of land. We had earlier acquired 6 acres of land from the Govt. for the same purpose. The  State  Assembly  passed  the  St.  Xavier’s  University,  Kolkata  Act  2016  in  December 2016.  Our  alumni  joined  hands  and  pledged  their  full  support.  We  prepared  a  road  map  - Vision 2020 and began our journey. Today  our  dream  has  come  true.  St.  Xavier’s  University,  Kolkata  was  inaugurated  by  the Hon’ble CM of Bengal in July 2017. In two years’ time, we have an enviable 1850 students on the rolls. Our focus is on:  -Making  SXUK  into  a  world-class  Jesuit  University  – a  Centre  of  Excellence  in  Research and Innovation -  with world-class network in the spirit of Magis; -Fulfilling  the  expectations  of  people  like  the  CM  of  WB  who  said:  ‘I  want  St.  Xavier's University  to  become  one  of  the  best  universities  of  the  world.  I  am  confident  that  the university will achieve this goal.’ -‘A  Quality  University  with  a  new  and  forward  looking  vision’  as  envisaged  by  the  NEP 2019. -A University with a multidisciplinary atmosphere and liberal approach We   believe   that   with   the   Divine   providence   and   the wholehearted   support   of   our stakeholders, we shall be able to achieve our Vision 2025. Many initiatives to start Jesuit Universities have been recently taken up in the country. It is a  welcome  move.  We  belong  to  an  extensive  and  the  largest  educational  network  in  the world. It is  a timely  call to all  of us to move forward and respond to the  changing times and new demands. d.Jesuit Networks for Harmony, Peace and Transformation: India  is  a  country  of  more  than  1.3  billion  people.  It  is  a  multi-religious,  multicultural  and multilinguistic country, known as the cradle of religions. But communal forces are dividing the  country  and  destroying  the  secular  credentials of  the  nation.  India  is  witnessing  too much of bloodshed in the name of fundamentalism.
All  religions  teach  peace  and  promote  mutual  love  for  one  another.  Religion,  as  Sri Ramakrishna  explained,  is  like  a  river  leading  its followers  to  the  great  Ocean  of  God. When the human relates to the Divine, there flows a process of the human being elevated to the realm of the Divine. ‘To be fully human is to be divine’. No religion preaches hatred. A  true  religion  is  transformative  in  nature,  having  the  power  to  create  ‘a  new  heaven  and  a new earth’. It  is  not  religion;  it  is  not  Hinduism  or  Islam  or Christianity  that  are  at  fault.  It  is fundamentalism. It is those who use religion for their own narrow, vested interests who are responsible  for  the  sad  state  of  affairs  in  India. It  is  the  outcome  of  their  inadequate knowledge,  their  institutionalized  perception  of  religion  and  their  fundamentalist  attitudes and  practices.  It  is  their  selective  and  literal  interpretation  of  their  scriptures,  which  is unhistorical. In today’s  India, the  need of the  hour is harmony. The time has come  for us to  play a pro-active role through our educational  institutions and our educational networks.  Whatever be our  strategies  and  new  initiatives,  our  priority  should  be  harmony  both  at  the  global  and national  levels.  Inter-religious  dialogues  and  communal  harmony  must  become  part  of  our curriculum, promoting active participation from our students, their parents and alumni/ae. e.Let me conclude with a quote from the 2nd Conference on Jesuit Networks held in Georgetown University, USA:  ‘Networks offer greater freedom to experiment and are places of innovation and creativity that allow us to balance our tradition with a necessary entrepreneurial and adaptive spirit.’

1.GUIDELINES  on  JESUIT  NETWORKING  in  the  SOCIAL  AREA,  › documents › sjs › docs
2.International Networking in the Society of Jesus. Challenges from a Universal Mission, April   28-30,   2012.   This   conference   brought  together   religious   and   lay   people, academics,  and  practitioners  from  apostolic  works  and  from  various  different  levels  of Jesuit structures  of  governance,  to  initiate  a  line  of  reflection  on  the  opportunities  and ways  to  develop  international  networking  in the  Ignatian  family;  given  the  challenges that  globalization  poses  to  the  universal  body  of  the  Society  of  Jesus.For  more information visit its website at
3.Prophetic   Network   for  a  Universal  Mission:  2nd  International  Jesuit  Networking Conference, Georgetown University, 15-17 February 2018,