STAND (Student Training and Action for Neighbourhood Development) the brain child of Jesuits of SXC, Palayamkottai in 1993 marks the real dawn of Jesuit educational mission which states ‘towards integral liberation together with the poor’. The preferential option for the poor has been materialized through STAND, being mandatory and important component of the curriculum. One of the Excerpts from the preamble to Jesuit Higher Education is to shape our students into agents of social change, preparing them for concerted social action and thus paving the way to mass movements which will bring about the desired liberation.
STAND turning 25 years now, is a unique village adoption programme where every department adopts one village and the involvement of students in social development activities becomes part of their curriculum.
Tirunelveli district is surrounded by many villages with scarce industries and its economy mainly depends on agriculture. Though this district enjoys rich culture and tradition, the people are facing several socio-economic and environmental issues such as unemployment, poverty, underdeveloped rural setups, division based on caste and religion, high rate of crimes mainly caste driven, drought, scarcity of rain water and ground water, and closed communities.
In order to sensitize the students for the above issues and help them make positive impact on society, they are nurtured through the concept of MAGIS (It refers to the philosophy of doing more for Christ; therefore doing more for others) blended with IGNATIAN PEDAGOGY (Experience, Reflection, Action), by the Jesuit management and the academic community of SXC. STAND provides a concrete platform to exercise the sensitization process towards social issues, through orientation and training for students and faculty members on/off campus and to execute the development projects in collaboration with several government and non-government organizations.
This outreach program carries one credit for all the second year undergraduate students and first year postgraduate students. It is comprised of seven visits to the village and one two-day village camp. Every department adopts one village around Tirunelveli situated within the radius of 35 km. The performance of the students is evaluated not through examinations, but by their interest and innovative ideas, their ability to conceive new ideas and integrate with others and to carry out development projects through team work. It is jointly assessed by the faculty coordinator in the respective department and staff coordinator of STAND department. This is carried out in several stages viz.(i) Orientation for students and faculty members on campus (ii) Village survey and social analysis through data collection (iii) The students are grouped into teams as per their interest. The teams are as follows: social awareness team, educational awareness team, environmental awareness team, medical awareness team and documentation team (iv) Monitored group discussion on issues and needs of the adopted village (v) Execution of projects by individual teams in frequent collaboration with local government and non-government organizations such as hospitals (private and government), district forest office, Tirunelveli collectorate, NGOs in Tirunelveli and service minded individuals.
STAND programme generally focuses on poverty alleviation schemes, self-employment schemes, environmental protection schemes, women welfare schemes and educational and medical awareness schemes. The activities include awareness camps and rallies, promotion of government schemes like clean India, green India, swachh bharath, creating awareness on fundamental rights and government schemes, helping the village people to avail basic amenities by sending petitions to government offices, conducting workshops, debates and cultural events, screening documentary film on various social evils.
STAND received a grant of Rs. 34, 70, 000/- from Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, New Delhi, for the project entitled ‘Socio-economic empowerment of self-help group women in STAND adopted villages through Compost, bio-fertilizer and Biogas production in Tirunelveli District, Tamil Nadu’ during 2013-2016. Through this project STAND successfully fulfilled one of the missions of SXC, “To promote LAB TO LAND through outreach programmes”. This LAB to LAND programme is part of STAND activities where students and faculty members are involved in taking the fruits of education to the villages.
During the last five years, STAND has worked in 45 villages of which about 60% of the people are marginalized and downtrodden. Around 9,880 village people are benefitted by the extension activities carried out by 151 faculty members and 5,662 students. As a highlight of Silver Jubilee celebrations, welfare schemes such as donating stitching machines, female goats and hens were implemented under ‘WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS NETWORK’ initiatives. In these schemes 25 women in 15 villages got benefitted and the Department of STAND aims to facilitate these beneficiaries to expand these schemes by themselves and benefit other women in their own as well as neighbour village. It is targeted to expand to 25 villages by 2022.
On the whole STAND-outreach programme elevates the students towards academic excellence with relevance, inclusion of the excluded for empowerment and engaging the students in relevant research activities under the umbrella of its incubation centre and ensuring social justice through equity and access and thus works in line with the vision, mission, priority and thrust of SXC.
Keeping the views of Mahathma Gandhi, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”, STAND plays a key role in creating men and women for others and making future leaders through love, care and service.
STAND - Report of Events