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City to host Jesuit meet

St. Xavier’s College, Calcutta, is set to host the Jesuit Higher Education meet, the annual gathering of one of the largest educational networks in the country.

The principals of all Jesuit colleges and the directors of all Jesuit management institutes from across the country will get together to discuss issues pertaining to higher education in the country.

The meeting, to be held at Dhyan Ashram, Joka, from Friday to Sunday (October 12 to 14), will be attended by around 65 Jesuit college principals and management institute directors.

There are 46 Jesuit colleges — including Loyola College, Chennai, St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai and St. Xavier’s College, Calcutta — and 12 management institutes — including Xavier’s Labour Relations Institute (XLRI), Jamshedpur, Loyola Institute of Business Administration, Chennai and Xavier’s Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar (XIMB) — across the country.

In the last three years, the Jesuits have started six colleges in eastern India, such as St. Xavier’s College, Dumka, St. Xavier’s College, Rajgunj and St. Xavier’s College, Patna.

“We meet every year to take major decisions about where we should go as higher education institutes in the country. One Jesuit college hosts it each year in turn. Last year it was St. Xavier’s, Mumbai. This year we are hosting it,” said Father Felix Raj, the principal of St. Xavier’s College, Calcutta.

Every year at the meet, the heads of the Jesuit institutes discuss policies and issues that apply to higher education at a national level, said sources.

This year, one of the main issues that would come up is higher education in the context of the 12th Five Year Plan. “We as a group will have to take major decisions on how to effectively contribute to the aims of the 12th Five Year Plan. One of the major things that need to be discussed is how we can raise the gross enrolment ratio from 17 per cent to 30 per cent as mentioned in the Five Year Plan,” said Felix Raj.

The other major issue to be discussed is related to global ecological concerns and global networking.

“Global ecological issues are a major concern and we will discuss how to collaborate and address those issues. We will also identify a Jesuit college abroad with which we will collaborate on the issue,” said Felix Raj.

There is also a plan to set up a consortium on astronomy research. St. Xavier’s College, Calcutta is planning to renovate and update its observatory built in 1865 by Father Lafont and will invite other colleges with observatories to have collaborative initiatives.