St. Thomas for Students’ Excellence (SSE)
The different departments in the college are actively involved in enhancing the overall results and academic excellence of students. By giving lessons and coaching classes beyond the classroom teaching hours, the college has attracted students even from nearby colleges. The aim is to improve collectively, the achievements and performance of students. These programmes are primarily aimed at weaker and enthusiastic students to have a one-to-one interaction with teachers. They are also meant to train and equip students to face out-of-the-curriculum exams and tests. Such programmes have received tremendous support and help from the teachers and appreciation from the students.
Due to socio-economic disparity, students of the college come from various backgrounds and with different abilities. To minimize the differences in their performance the college decided to give extra lectures and teaching classes to the needy. Some PG students needed training to appear for UGC/CSIR NET examination and also needed teacher training programmes. Most of the students are not able to afford financially private NET coaching courses of other external centres. The facility given at the college was even utilized by students from nearby colleges. A subsidized fee is collected from the candidates which will be reimbursed as and when they qualify in the tests. The College has started various teaching programmes also, aiming at the overall development of students’ achievements by giving extra tutorial lectures. Students from all the departments teach at an orphanage thereby enhancing their teaching abilities which would equip them for future teaching careers and is also meant as a service to the society at large. These programmes are not a burden on the students and they have garnered the benefits of these courses.
4. The Practice:
To alleviate the performance differences among students the following programmes were initiated: ASAP, SASAP, EXCEL, Employability Skills and Personality Enrichment Programme (ESPEP), Communication Skill Development Programme (CSDP), UGC-NET coaching by the competent members of faculty of all departments, JAM, UGC assisted Remedial Coaching for Weaker sections, Remedial Coaching for Under-performing students, Communication Skill Development Programme (CSDP), Walk With a Scholar (WWS) and Research Methodology Courses. Education Council of Kerala which aims at imparting skill training to students has initiated this project (ASAP) in tune with the proposals of the National Skill Council. For Skill Development Executives (SDE), 61 students have registered and 21 students were selected for the higher level training programme.
SASAP (Santhome Academic and Social Assistance Programme): A number of teachers and students from the college give free tuition classes for students at St. Anne’s Orphanage, West Fort, Thrissur. This has enabled the students of the college who go there to get training in teaching which would equip them for future teaching career.
EXCEL is an innovative programme launched in 2012 to motivate and train brilliant school students of Thrissur district for Civil Service Examinations. The organisation of the programme is done by the Management of the College and the classes are given by our faculty.
Employability Skills and Personality Enrichment Programme (ESPEP) is organised by Career Guidance and Placement Cell to develop personality and skills for the students.
UGC-NET coaching classes are conducted by competent faculty from all the departments. Eminent and well known teachers are invited for these courses on Saturdays and Sundays. Students who attended these courses have shown better performances in competitive exams and they have found it useful in their future research career. Communication Skill Development Programme attempts to enhance the interpersonal communication skills. The JAM programme is meant for bachelor students in Physics to enable them to enter in prestigious scientific and technological institutes.
Those students who under-perform in regular classes are given remedial teaching classes by teachers. These classes are conducted usually, either before the commencement of regular classes or after the regular class. The remedial classes are mainly aimed at UG students of first and second years and by the third year they have been found to improve significantly.
For the research scholars in various departments the college organize a Research Methodology Course for scholars to initiate them to the methodologies and stages of doing research. Teachers of the college regularly visit the homes of students to understand their backgrounds and living conditions so that they can develop better rapport with students and parents. This has helped teachers to identify underprivileged students and provide better academic and moral support.
The College plans to provide an Advanced Certificate Course (ACC) for every student in the college. A student can attend a course in a specific subject, usually conducted after the regular classes. Every department in the college has prepared the syllabus, course structure and collected materials for the course and is waiting for the concurrence from the affiliated university. The ACC is meant as a course that would train students in practical, industrial and application level understanding of their subjects.
5. Evidence of Success:
The College started the UGC NET coaching in 2013 and found it to be highly successful as 81 students have passed the UGC/CSIR-NET examination and we have quite a few rank holders in the university. The number of students who do higher studies and do research in institutions and universities of academic excellence is high. The support classes given to students have also raised the performance level of students as is evinced from the final year results. These training programmes for students have given them new academic and social skills which equipped them to face campus interviews and the number of students who got jobs through campus interviews is 478. Eighteen Ph.D. scholars were awarded their degrees through the various research departments of the college. Overall these support programmes have helped in increasing the quality of education and the extra-mural interaction between students and teachers. It is also to be noted that it is not just students of the college who have benefitted from these endeavours but students from other colleges and school students from Thrissur district.
6. Problems Encountered and Resources Required:
On holidays the college has enough space to accommodate all the outreach programmes. But on working days the space constraint is evidently visible. Another challenge was to find time-slots for the classes. Even though teachers come early and leave much later after the regular working hours, the time slots for engaging the classes have been difficult to arrange. Most of the students come from remote areas and they cannot attend classes during late hours. Paucity of funds for buying books, study materials and other infrastructural needs and also for inviting teachers are other challenges that were of concern.
St. Thomas’ for Society (SFS)
1. Title of the Practice: St. Thomas’ for Society (SFS)
The main objective of this initiative by the staff and students of the college is to reach out to the society at large and to give back to the community and nation that made possible the success of the college in the field of higher education. From programmes which are meant to give awareness to general public about social issues to helping financially students from poor background, this initiative has been found to be of immense help to many. These programmes have also enabled a better interaction between the college and the society in which the college is embedded.
3. The Context:
There is a growing tendency in today’s academia to reach out to the society at large and contribute to the wellbeing and betterment of social conditions. As an institution committed to the ideals bequeathed to us by the builders of our nation we had to find a way to give back to the society. Students and staff of the college are eager to contribute to the society and nation because we find disparity in many areas. The most important arenas in which we have contributed are helping the financially weak, the marginalized and the suffering. ‘St Thomas’ for Society’ is thus a collective initiative of students and staff of the college to understand social problems plaguing immediate local community in Thrissur to integrate these issues with academic study. By this, students and faculty have found new means of identifying, analyzing and finding practical solutions for various social issues. The main advantage of the programmes under this rubric is that more and more people in the marginalized social groups are benefitting meaningfully from these activities.
4. The Practice:
It is a given fact that poverty and economic deprivation is still a reality in India and Thrissur town is not an exception. To inculcate feelings of charity, brotherhood and kindness to fellow humans, the college initiated various programmes meant specifically for the betterment of community in Thrissur district.
The blood donation programmes organised by the students and staff for Blood Bank, Indian Medical Association, Thrissur and for deserving patients in the Jubilee Mission Medical College, Government Medical College and District Hospital is an exemplary social service practice. The Counselling Centre situated in the Jubilee Block, under the auspices of the Department of Social Work is an innovative move forward to provide counselling to the needy in the society.
To help students without a proper shelter, the college started a programme named Sahapadikkoru Veedu (House for a Classmate). For this, every Friday during the class teachers’ hour, students voluntarily contribute money to build a house for homeless students in the college. The programme is underway and we have collected a sizeable amount for this. Many students donate their lunch on every Friday and these are distributed to the nearby hospitals and orphanages and the food reach the needy in time by Jesus Youth volunteers.
Another activity, initiated by the Social Work department was that of collecting money every year for dialysis patients. As dialysis is an expensive process, many patients in the nearby hospitals find it difficult to amass money for the treatment. To alleviate this issue the money collected is promptly given to the disadvantaged patients.
Visiting old age homes and homes of physically challenged individuals is another activity carried out for students under the guidance of teachers. Every month students and staff of the college visit old age homes, observe and understand their living conditions and help them lead a better life. Faces of our teachers and students are familiar to the inmates of Athani Peace Home, St. Joseph’s Home Pullazhi, Christeena Home Pullazhi and Damien Institute Mulayam, Governement Old Age Home, Ramavarmapuram since they regularly go there and interact.
Mainly under the initiative of Social Work department the college observes all important international days of social importance. International days like World AIDS Day, Human Rights Day, Alzheimer's Day, World Cerebral Palsy Day, Women’s Day, World Environment Day, Old Age Day, World Mental Health Day, World Disability Day, and Social Work Day are observed in the campus and at times extended beyond the campus. The various programmes associated with these days, like street plays, rallies, camps, distribution of leaflets, quizzes, exhibitions, seminars and conferences are conducted in order to impart awareness about social issues to students and general public. Cartia Calcio (Charity Football) is a programme launched by the Department of Commerce at Jubilee Block to raise funds for free dialysis at Jubilee Mission Hospital and 25 patients are supported by the programme every year.
In tune with the mission and vision of the founders of the college the AICUF (All India Catholic University Federation), visits prison houses, old age homes and foundling homes, works to sensitize against the horrors of nuclear reactors, and to organise awareness programmes for tribal communities.
5. Evidence of Success:
The various programmes under St. Thomas’ for Society initiative have been successful in imparting humanitarianism and charity to students. We have found that these programmes have been highly successful in raising the awareness of students and public regarding community life. The students of St.Anne’s Orphanage have won two full A+ and 100% percentage success in 2013-14 and 2014-15. The patients and poor people who have benefitted from various outreach programmes themselves are testimony to the success of those programmes. The observance of various international days has been instrumental in spreading awareness to the general public. The overwhelming response from the society and those who received help from the College is an important factor that encourages the students to carry forward with their activities.
6. Problems Encountered and Resources Required:
Usually general public has a tendency to belittle the awareness programmes conducted by students. So it had been a challenge in the beginning to involve general public to these activities.