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 PRAYAS : An Effort

PRAYAS - The Fruit Bearing Tree

Prayas is an effort aimed at bringing about the complete overall development of the students, both in the college and in the villages. Prayas has proved to be a very successful venture and is no longer just a project - it is a movement! The primary objective of this movement is to provide continuous support and assistance to the less fortunate children, both academically and materially, and thereby part of the larger attempt to achieve 100% literacy by 2015. This ongoing project was initiated by Rev. Fr. Dr. J. Felix Raj, SJ Principal, St. Xavier's College (Autonomous), Kolkata, in January 2006. He firmly believes that, "If colleges and villages meet, there will be a knowledge revolution.” This simple effort has metamorphosed into a complete movement, and continues to bridge the socio-economic gap between the college and the village adopted by the college.


College student teaching the children at Gurap College students teaching the children at Paikhala Felix Raj being felicitated by a children at Shalpukur

The pedagogy of Prayas works on Three Stages. View Diagram

The college along with its Management, Faculty and Family is the 'temple of wisdom'. The village along with its administration, village partners and family is the 'temple of prosperity'. Stage One is the Planning stage.

A collaboration of both leads to the second stage which is the implementation stage. Here the the college students go to the villages and work with the children. They conduct classes and extracurricular activities, surveys, camps etc. They also provide financial assistance to the very needy children to continue their education. Twice a year the village children are brought to the college. They are taken for city tours, college campus tour, etc. College students conduct educational sessions, sports and other activities for the children.

Students of St. Xavier's college contribute Rs. 1 per day to support the education of these village children. This collection is sent every month to 7 villages of Bengal: Devipur, Gurap, Jhantipahari, Mirga, Salpukur, Bolorampur and Ghostomat. More than 1000 children have benefited from this project in the last 5 years. “The children learn a lot. It is very useful for them, especially English. They do not learn so much in their village schools”, said Mrs.Uma Majhi, the village animator.

The third stage is the outcome of the Prayas. College students and the village children, both benefit from this project. As the college and village come together there is an overall development of both. On one hand this project helps college students in discovering the true India, in being more aware of the harsh realities and in transforming their outlooks. For every student it is a challenge to study better and develop a sense of service. On the other hand the village students are given an exposure to wider realities and motivation to continue their education. The village undergoes a transformation and there is growth in literacy. It is the progress of this project that makes one believe that someday, every child from a village would go to college and if every college reaches out to at least one village then the millennium goal of 100 percent literacy by 2015 can become a reality. The Prayas project is not demanding in its nature, yet it is effective. It does not cruelly pinch the pocket of a student, yet it has helped to improve the lives of a thousand other children. Prayas has not simply illustrated a cause left to be fulfilled by the richer sections of society, it has changed the mindset of a thousand college students, who work together to bring about the change - a knowledge revolution!

PRAYAS - The Fruit Bearing Tree
Village to College - College to Village
Tête à Tête with Rev. Fr. Dr. J. Felix Raj, SJ
-The inspiration behind the movement
Facts and Figures
Thumbs Up : Positive Feedback
News and Media
"If colleges and villages meet, there will be a knowledge revolution,” believes Fr. Felix Raj, SJ, the person behind the success of Prayas.
The pedagogy of Prayas
Facts and Figures

No. of Villages under PRAYAS : 9
Total percentage of females passed : 91.96%
Total percentage of males passed : 90.10%
More Facts and Figures
Village to College College to Village
Project Prayas brings 50 underprivileged children to Calcutta Know more

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 development.

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.



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