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 PRAYAS : An Effort
 
 

PRAYAS GROWS FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH

Fr Felix Raj inaugurating the Prayas Camp in June 2013.
 

Fr Felix Raj, Fr. T.J. Thomas and Fr. Joseph Raj along with the children at Raghavpur.

 

Education is viewed as an effective tool for bringing about social change through community development. Keeping in mind the role of education as an indicator of overall socio-economic development, Project Prayas was initiated eight years ago by Rev. Fr. Dr. J. Felix Raj, SJ. Initially an idea- the collaboration between college and village to bring about a ‘knowledge revolution’- Prayas today has become a full-fledged movement. Indeed, eight years since its proud inception, Prayas has grown from strength to strength, adding more and more villages under its ambit. Students of the commerce department of St. Xavier’s College contribute one rupee every day to support the education of the children of nine villages of Bengal- Devipur, Gurap, Jhantipahari, Mirga, Shalpukur, Bolorampur, Bholakhali, Nurshidarchowk and Ghostomat. The ‘one-rupee revolution’ is instrumental in bringing about a positive difference in the lives of more than 1,500 children.

It is the progress of this project that makes one believe that someday, every child from a village would go to college and in the words of Fr. Felix Raj, “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 pedagogy works on three stages. The first stage is the planning stage carried out by the college management and faculty. The next stage, arguably the most important, is the implementation stage. It is in this stage that the real collaboration between college and village occurs. The college students go to the villages and work with the children, conducting classes and extracurricular activities. They also provide financial assistance to the very needy children to continue their education. An annual Prayas camp is conducted where village children are brought to the college. College students conduct educational sessions, city tours and other activities for the children. The third and final stage is termed the outcome of Prayas.

The principle of ‘Village to College- College to Village’ tries to bridge the attitudinal gap between two very different ways of living. On one hand this project helps college students in discovering the true India, the underprivileged and impoverished millions she comprises. It aims to awaken in them a realisation of their responsibility as enlightened citizens to give something back to society in service. On the other hand the village students are provided motivation to continue their education.

An overview of the academic performance of 2010-11 at five rural extension centres showed that the total percentage of females passed was 91.96 and the total percentage of males passed was 90.10. It is very encouraging to see the young adults from the Prayas villages pursuing higher education and post graduation studies, which was not the case eight years ago. A change in the attitudinal construct of the parents has led them to being more aware of the importance of education, and they show keen interest in the overall development of their children.

Besides financial assistance, Prayas has proved instrumental in changing the outlook of many an impressionable young mind, helping them to appreciate the value of education and work hard towards the same.

One very positive outcome of this Prayas is the upcoming extension of St. Xavier’s college at Raghabpur. This will surely give a boost to all those rural children who wish to pursue higher education and will contribute towards promoting higher education among the rural population.

St. Xavier’s College received the Dr. P.S. Job Memorial Award from AIACHE for project PRAYAS in 2011. In 2013, the Prayas documentary film made by EMMRC was selected for screening at the Kerala Film Festival.

 

View An Interaction with Rev. Fr. Dr. J. Felix Raj, SJ



 

Students Speak about their experience in Villages
“The camp was an enriching experience. Interacting with the children and teaching them was an experience never to be forgotten. Every moment spent there has left me spellbound and I would like to go again to discover new things.” Srijain Acharya

“The camp was indeed very educative for me. The children were punctual and hardworking. I await a chance to go there again.” Suman Poddar

“It was a unique learning experience not only for the kids but for us students. I have learnt to live for others.” Ritesh Khetan

“Going to Gurap has been a lifetime experience and I am satisfied that I brought smiles on the faces of some children.” Boris Lakra

“This camp has made me realize that life is not to be sitting idle; it is full of responsibility and hard work. I consider myself fortunate to have gone for this camp and to have learnt the deeper meaning of life.” Piyush Munot


“After attending this camp I have learnt to be more self-dependent as I witnessed these little children doing all their work independently. Be it washing their clothes or getting ready for school, they did all by themselves.” Ankur Dhanuka
 
“The camp was a different experience altogether. I felt a sense of satisfaction by serving others and living the way they do. Even though the camp was for a few days it has taught me lessons for a lifetime.” Nikhil Saraf

“The camp was a great experience and I am looking forward to serve these children in a better way in future.” Binod Homagai

“Camps at Gurap and Pandua had been a new experience in my life. Living with children for five days, sharing their food at Pandua, playing with them, interacting with them was all new to me. But at the end of those five days, I realized that I would be missing after I return. Until and unless one goes to a camp, one would never feel for this project”. Ignatius Rozario

“An experience never to be forgotten and we all would love to have many such experiences. May God bless those children and endow them with the power of learning.” Arjun Karnani
 
 

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