General Body Meeting & Triennial Conference of AIACHE Member Institutions at Christ University, Bangalore
ALL INDIA ASSOCIATION FOR CHRISTIAN HIGHER EDUCATION
General Body Meeting & Triennial Conference of
AIACHE Member Institutions
29-30 January, 2018 at Christ University, Bangalore
CONFERENCE STATEMENT AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Distinguished Chief Guest, guests of honour, friends and well-wishers of the AIACHE fraternity,
A very warm good afternoon. I am honoured to present before you the Statement and Recommendation of the Triennial Conference of member institutions of AIACHE held at Christ University, Bengaluru on 29th-30th January, 2018.
Friends, AIACHE is 52 years young. Yes, you heard me right. AIACHE is 52 years young because like the best of professional organizations it believes that “growing up is mandatory, growing old is optional”. An organization is as old or as young as the vision, drive and hunger of its people who make impossible things possible. And AIACHE believes that conquering hills today prepares to conquer mountains tomorrow.
The spectacular growth of AIACHE in the last 5-6 years is the outcome of human industry achieved through divine inspiration. Its success story has been made possible due to the dynamic leadership and the untiring efforts of Dr. Daniel Ezhilarasu and his team. To organize 60 programs in the short span of 30 months is a phenomenal achievement. To touch and transform the lives of so many teachers, students, and education leaders is a miracle.
The historical celebration of the golden jubilee of AIACHE in 2016 is a testimony to the robustness and longevity of the organization as well as a tribute to the glorious tradition of Christian Higher Education institutions in providing learning and service of the highest standards of excellence to the nation. Indeed, in the history of education of the country, CHEIs have always been pioneers and innovators in providing learning to the youth that is enabling, enriching, and empowering.
The statement that follows is directed to all stakeholders participating in the system of higher education in India in the belief that the time has come for collective planning, concerted action and concrete outcomes. The constituents involved in this process include the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, State Governments, University Grants Commission, denominational constituents of the church, Vice-chancellors, principals, faculty and students of universities and colleges, industry, alumni and parents.
Indian higher education is in a state of crisis. The absence of Indian institutions in global ranking lists of world class universities and colleges, the disconnect between industry and academia, the slow increase in the gross enrolment ratio, alarming dropout rates in colleges, the outdated curriculum and the ineffectual examination system, are the familiar ills that continue to beset the growth of higher education in the country. There is also the disturbing trend of saffronization of institutions, doctoring of curriculum, and interference in policy decisions and governance practices of Christian higher education institutions that is detrimental to their effective working.
Against the backdrop of these worrying trends, the Triennial Conference organized by AIACHE at Christ University, Bengaluru invited leaders of the state, vice-chancellors, principals, faculty and students to deliberate on the various issues and challenges of higher education and to formulate a roadmap that will enable course correction in our policies and practices. The two day convention on the theme of “Stakeholders of Education as Change Makers for Nation Building” had a focussed approach on the ultimate goal of nation-building through suggested reforms in higher education. The discussion at all times focused on the prospects and challenges faced by Christian Higher Education institutions in the context of the turbulent political scenario in the county and the rapidly changing globalized world.
HOW DID THE STATEMENT EMERGE:
The conference deliberations covered wide ranging issues related to the ‘quiet crisis’ that threatens Indian higher education. A total of VII technical sessions and III business sessions was spread over 2 days, involving some of the best among the intelligentsia from the field of academia, administration and jurisprudence including former Ministers of State, policy makers, legal experts, Vice-Chancellors and Principals, and 150 delegates from different parts of the country.
KEY AREAS REVOLVING THE IDENTIFICATION OF CONFERENCE STATEMENT
The statement and recommendations emerged from 7 focus areas related to the role of Christian colleges and universities. These are:
The key words of the conference itself, namely stakeholders, change makers and nation-building need to be redefined and reconfigured in the changing landscape of 21st century education scenario.
Response and engagement of Christian Higher Education Institutions with regard to minority issues, rights and privileges.
The need for vigilance, collective and concerted action of Christian higher education against the threat of academic contamination of our campuses by right wing ideological forces.
Role of stakeholders in making higher education transformative, inclusive and integrative.
Fiscal planning, strategic management and resource mobilization for self-sustenance of AIACHE
Transmission of Christian values, ethics, and morality in Christian higher education institutions.
Making higher education accessible, equitable and excellent to serve the cause of social justice and egalitarianism, and contribute to the noble task of nation-building.
The deliberations that took place focused on the above mentioned 7 core areas and came out with the following statements and recommendations that together formulate a plan of action:
The glorious contribution of Christian higher education institutions to nation-building over the years must be acknowledged and appreciated by the Government with positive and transparent gestures of support, cooperation and cooption.
AIACHE must be the mouth organ of the collective voices of all CHEIs in order to oppose and resist the disintegrating practices pursued by the present dispensation that are threatening the very secular fabric of the nation.
Nation-building must go together with Kingdom-building through the ministry of education in the service of Christ. Along with this, change making and change managing must also go hand in hand for CHEIs to orient its ecosystems according to the needs of the 21st century.
CHEIs need to be dynamic instruments of change and take lead in bringing positive changes in our higher education system. Vocation-fulfillment and Value-clarification are two important tasks that CHEIs are carrying out in empowering the youth on its campuses, one that makes them unique and different from other institutions in the country. CHEIs give the most vibrant expression to spiritual and ethical values by integrating it with the curriculum. CHEIs must amplify the voices of the multitude of students so that each institution becomes a prophecy by itself.
It is important for CHEIs to represent their case and address their grievances not only with the National Commission on Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI) but also with their respective State Minority Commissions. This will ensure that colleges that are entangled in legal disputes regarding affiliation, appointments and promotions are able to function hassle-free.
Indian higher education is facing a problem of adhocism that threatens to spiral out of control. Nearly 62% of teachers in universities and colleges serve as academic slaves, as contributory and ad hoc teachers. The ‘hire and fire’ contractual system of appointment violates the fundamental principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’ and has led to the deteriorating standards in higher education. If adhocism is needed to be done away with then two steps need to be urgently taken. First, It is imperative that the government and MHRD make increased budgetary allocation for higher education. An increase of at least 10% in GDP spending on higher education will bring India on par with what most developed countries like China, US and UK have already done. Second, CHEIs through the nodal agency of AIACHE must impress the government to fill vacancies, regularize appointments, and clear this academic deficit.
One of the most serious problems higher education is confronting with is that teachers are finding it difficult to teach a learners that are speaking a new language – the language of the digital world. The digital divide between teachers and learners must be bridged. Faculty must scale up in the use of the power of technology. Tools need to be developed to help teachers integrate technology into the curriculum and facilitate richer learning resources and methodologies for the millennial learners of today. There is a need for teachers to reorient both the content and the methods of our curriculum transaction otherwise India might lose the gains of its demographic dividend.
HEIs must introduce employability modules within and outside the curriculum in order to make graduate job-ready and market-oriented. First, skill development should be made an integral part of the curriculum and not as something secondary and supplementary. Second, higher education policy makers must solicit the collaboration of industry experts in the designing of under-graduate curriculum.
AIACHE has become the magnet that pulls and draws all Christian institutions together. It must be supported wholeheartedly in all the activities that it has been doing in the last for decades. Member institutions must provide human resource, fiscal and logistics support to AIACHE to continue its good work in training teachers and students in CHEIs in order to realize their full potential. There must be an intensive drive to expand and increase the body of members institutions of AIACHE, by including professional institutions (Medical and Nursing, engineering, social work and education) .
AIACHE must be helped by member institutions to attain financial stability through the following steps:
Create a corpus fund of one crore with member institutions making a one time contribution of 50,000/- to 100,000/-.
Create endowment funds for AIACHE awards in new categories like Best Teacher, best Researcher, etc.
Ensure that all 350 member institutions regularly remit their annual subscription to AIACHE.
Start a National Forum for teachers and start a membership drive for students in colleges.
The Human Values Development Programme designed by AIACHE has been a change maker in institutions that have implemented this program. The success of this progam must be replicated in all the member institutions of AIACHE.
The sharing of best practices among the member institutions of AIACHE is another game changer that is helping sister institutions to improve quality in education. The effort in this direction must be strengthened. The program of inter-institutional faculty and student exchange initiated by AIACHE must also be vigorously pursued and implemented.
CHEIs must prioritize new areas of knowledge formation and research development such as Environment studies, Peace studies, Conflict Resolution and promote inter-faith dialogues.
As AIACHE marches forward in its 53nd year after the grand celebration of 50 glorious years in the service of education and the nation, there is a need to introspect on the present day issues and challenges, on how it has fulfilled its goals in the sphere of higher education keeping intact the spirit of Jesus Christ. AIACHE along with its member institutions has a greater responsibility now to redefine and reposition its role in nation-development in the context of the changed political scenario in the country.
Friends, change is hard because people overestimate the value of what they have—and underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving that up.” Unless we are prepared to give up something valuable we will never be able to truly change at all, because we’ll be forever in the control of things we can’t give up.”
Ladies and gentlemen this is the most important lesson that we may take away from the two day AIACHE Triennial Conference. Let us all resolve and abide by the guiding principle of the conference theme that only by building bridges across all stakeholders we can make stakeholders in higher education become change makers in nation building.
Dr. Prantik Banerjee
Vice-Principal & IQAC Coordinator
Hislop College, Nagpur (Maharashtra)
(Approved & accepted on behalf of the delegates by the General Secretary)