Xavier's success story in Raghabpur

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By Staff Reporter
  • Published 6.01.15

When 16-year-old Sarika Pailan, a regular at Sunday visits organised by students of St. Xavier's College at Shalpukur, South 24-Parganas, heard about the college setting up a campus in the neighbouring village of Raghabpur, the Class XI student couldn't believe her luck.

For Deepika Korali, a Class XII student from Debipur and a first-generation learner, a campus in the neighbouring village meant being able to continue her education.

Their dream came true in July 2014 when St. Xavier's College inaugurated its Raghabpur campus, which just completed its first semester.

"Many of the students studying on the Raghabpur campus, 75 per cent of whom are women, would perhaps not have had college education if they did not have a campus close to their village," said Father Felix Raj, the principal of St. Xavier's College, Calcutta.

The Raghabpur campus, which is an outcome of the "College to Village, Village to College" project, known as PRAYAS, initiated by Felix Raj in 2006, has 126 students now and offers three courses - BCom (honours), Bengali (honours) and BA (general). The medium of instruction is Bengali. The syllabus is the same as that of the Calcutta campus. Teachers from the Calcutta campus act as visiting faculty.

"No elite college goes in search of people who are poor and marginalised. A reputable college like St. Xavier's going to the rural milieu proves that the Jesuit option for the poor is enhanced and concretised," said Father Joseph Raj, the academic coordinator of the Raghabpur campus.

Felix Raj hopes that the college will lead the way for other city colleges to set up rural campuses to ensure the educational uplift of the general population. "Educational development is the responsibility of all educational institutions. Mahatma Gandhi said educational institutes were the temples of knowledge and villages the temples of prosperity; and both need to interact for the overall development of the country," said Felix Raj.

The Raghabpur campus plans to add history (honours) and political science (honours) from the coming academic year.