Tête à Tête
with Rev. Fr. Dr. J. Felix Raj, SJ
The inspiration behind the movement
Father, what does Prayas mean to you?
Prayas is an effort to take college to village and bring village to college. I
envisage a cordial
meeting between these two. This meeting will generate growth and quality among
college students and village children. If colleges and villages meet, there will
knowledge revolution leading to total development. And this is what I hope for.
What was your main objective behind this effort?
In a country where you have large percentage of dropouts, where gross enrolment
higher education is 12 to 15 percent, we need to promote access and opportunity
education. The system is such that children are coming to school. Now the school
to go to the children and meet them in their homes. Colleges are centres of
education, centres of knowledge and villages are centres of prosperity and
the two will help the country to grow. Prayas is thought of in the context of
How did you determine the general attitude of students
while you proposed the programme?
Students and colleges like St. Xavier's are generous and open to projects like
this because such projects challenge the
students and make their learning more meaningful. Every college student whether
rich or poor, is part of the large Indian
family. So his/her formation must be contextual. The purpose of his/her
education must be collective. Through this project
the college aims to give a holistic perspective of education and if every
student is made to understand this , he/she will be
able to opt for it.
Do you think that the general awareness has increased?
The perspective of college students has changed and the quality of village
children has improved. The people of the village
are very happy with the outcome. It has tremendous amount of impact on both
college students and village children and
on both units – college and villages. The contacts have created a lot of concern
for the rural people. Many students have
told me that they went to the camps to fulfill the credit requirements, but
returned with love and transformation of their
What is the future of the Prayas movement?
The future of Prayas is in the hands of our students. I am confident it will
continue. As one student mentioned in one of our
sharing sessions, “Prayas is not a project, but a movement”. A project like this
must be carried out by every college. There
are about 30, 000 colleges in our country. If every college adopts one village
is will be a tremendous contribution to nation
building. Yes, we are doing good work out of love and concern. It is God's work
and so it will definitely continue.
What is the involvement of faculty members?
It is very encouraging, but they must also be given some orientation about this
project. Faculty support is a must for the
success of this project.
Any message to readers?
Every reader is a participant in this project and must promote this project
wherever it is possible. All of us have a role to play
as human beings and as Indian citizens in the development of this country so
that all of us may live in peace and harmony.
We are born in an unjust society and we should be determined not to leave it as
we have found it. The world is divided. But,
let us put our hearts and minds together and stretch out hands to heal the
wounds and bridge the divisions to build a
to College College to Village
Project Prayas brings 50 underprivileged children to Calcutta
In a country with 10,33,473 number of schools and 16,885 colleges and
countless number of educational initiatives by public and private
sectors, there are still 100 million children out of school of whom 60
per cent are girls. With 35 per cent of the population still not
literate, a country cannot boast of achieving high standards of
Education is one of the indicators of progress. It is the key to
development. The second millennium goal is to achieve universal primary
education by 2015. Therefore, the need of the hour is to bring about an
educational revolution. The process has already begun. Let us all join
together to take India to a greater heights.
Dr. Fr. J. Felix Raj, SJ
Artha Beekshan, Vol. 16. No. 2. September 2007.