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Xavier Board Higher Education Conference starts in Guwahati

By Father C.M. Paul SDB
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Mumbai, Sep. 14. Guwahati - The 23rd Triennial Conference of the Xavier Board of Higher Education was inaugurated at Don Bosco Institute, Kharguli, Guwahati on 13th September 2019. The theme of the three-day conference (13-15 September) is ''Revisioning Higher Education in India: Challenges and Strategies for Catholic Institutions.''
Archbishop Thomas D'Souza of Calcutta and Chairman of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India's (CBCI) Commission for Education and Culture inaugurated the event.

Quoting the Education Policy of the Catholic Church, he stressed that ''the most important indicator of a country's progress is the state of its higher education.''

He expressed his firm hope that the 23rd Triennial Conference will ''come up with creative and practical insights to make Catholic Higher Education ever relevant.''

President of Xavier Board Father Leslie Moras, Regional President of Eastern & North Eastern Region Father Dr. Sebastian Ousepparampil, Secretary General Sister Dr. Annamma Philip, Vice Chancellor of Assam Don Bosco University Father (Dr.) Stephen Mavely,, Director of DBI Father PD John, and Vice President, Xavier Board Father (Dr.) Emmanuel Kallarackal were eminent speakers at the inaugural function.

The keynote address ''Re-visioning Higher Education in India - Challenges and Strategies'' was delivered by Vice-Chancellor, National University of Educational Planning and Administration, New Delhi Prof. N.V. Varghese.

He began by stating that ''Universities as we know them today will not exist in the near future!''  Universities should produce not necessarily ''trained'' graduates but ''trainable'' graduates who can be employable today and in the future. Any re-visioning of Higher Education should look at what Universities are ''good for'' rather than at what universities are ''good at''.

The inaugural function also saw the presentation of Sister Hedwige Award 2019 bagged by Stella Maris College Chennai. Sister Rosy Joseph FMM and team received the award from Dr. Thomas D'Souza, Chairman of the CBCI Office for Education and Culture.

Sister Hedwige (1924 to 2008) born in Tiruchy was a Carmelite Sister of Sister Teresa.

Sister Hedwige Award is annually given to a college which strives to bring Christ to the campus through various programmes. The Award for 2017-18 was jointly won by Sacred Heart College, Thevara, Kerala and Marian College, Kuttikkanam, Kerala. The award was won by Mount Carmel College, Bangalore in 2016-17 and by Holy Cross College, Nagercoil, Tamil Nadu in 2015-16. All these colleges have also been awarded autonomous status by the UGC.

The three day event will discuss the draft National Education Policy 2019 and other relevant topics affecting Higher Education in India.

Secretary General of International Federation of Catholic Universities (IFCU), Paris Prof. Francois Mabille, will speak on Internationalization of Higher Education.

Possible future directions in Internationalization of Higher Education will be discussed under the leadership of independent researcher from JNU, Mr. Eldo Mathews and Prof. M.A. Kalam from Krea University in Sricity, Andhra Pradesh will discuss Tribulations of Mainstreamed Higher Education.

Democracy, Secularism and Education, the three pillars of modern education will be discussed by Dr. Anitha Kurup from National Institute of Advanced Studies.

Archbishop Emeritus Thomas Menamparampil of Guwahati will lead the discussion on getting people to think and develop a sense of social responsibility.

Director of the Center for International Higher Education, Lynch School of Education, Boston College, USA Prof. Philip Altbach will lead the discussion on higher education at a turning point.

A visit to Assam Don Bosco University in the city is also planned.

The Catholic Church in India was involved in higher education even before the very first modern Universities in India were set up around 1854. St. Xavier's College Kolkata was founded in 1816 and St. Joseph's College Tiruchirappalli was established in 1844.

Xavier Board of Higher Education in India, recognized by CBCI as the only official association of all Catholic Higher Education institutions was established in 1951. It has today 352 member institutions including Deemed and Private Universities in India. Xavier Board is also the initiator of the ecumenical body, AIACHE (All India Association for Christian Higher Education).

The three-day conference will end with election of office bearers for the prestigious Xavier Board of Higher Education in India.

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