Address by Governor at the presentation of the ‘Xavier Ratna’ Awards on the occasion of Sesquicentenary Year of St. Xavier High School
Address by Shri CH. Vidyasagar Rao at the presentation of the ‘Xavier Ratna’ Awards on the occasion of Sesquicentenary Year of St. Xavier High School, Mumbai at 5 p.m. on Saturday 5 January 2019
Shri Ashok Chavan, Hon’ble Member of Parliament and former Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Shri H.C. Agarwal, Chief Post Master General of Maharashtra, Fr. (Dr) Francis Swamy, Manager, St. Xavier High School, Shri Shabbir Beguwala, President, St. Xavier School Alumni Association, Smt. Sharmila Sunny, Principal of the School, the most distinguished Xavier Ratnas – Shri Adi Godrej, Chairman of the Godrej Group, Shri Deepak Parekh, non- Executive Chairman of HDFC and a leading figure in banking and housing finance and Dr Eric Borjes, senior Cardiologist, – Heads of various Xavier institutions, teachers, past teachers, staff, student-monitors, invitees, ladies and gentlemen,
Good evening and greetings to you.
I am indeed delighted to join you all, in celebrating the 150th year of the foundation of the St. Xavier High School at this year’s Annual Reunion of alumni -‘Nostalgia’.
I feel privileged to have been asked to honour and felicitate some of the most distinguished alumni of the St. Xavier’s School. It is only appropriate that the first day special cover of this grand old institution is also being released today.
Since its establishment in the year 1869 by the Jesuits in this wonderful neo-gothic building, the St. Xavier School has provided modern education and values to several generations of students. The School transformed students into men of character and integrity. These students, in turn, enriched the city, the State and the nation with their multifarious contributions to various walks of life.
The list of alumni of the School is most impressive and enviable. It is a matter of great pride that the School has given the nation freedom fighters, captains of Industry, sportspersons and leaders in various disciplines.
At a time when good education is becoming exclusive, St Xavier’s Schools stands out as an inclusive institution which has imparted education to every member of society irrespective of considerations of race, religion, sex, caste, or financial status.
I salute the Founding Fathers of the School, the Jesuits, the most committed past and present teachers, administrators and all those who nurtured it and inculcated a culture of excellence.
I convey my warm felicitations to the Management, Principal, teachers, alumni, staff and students of the School as the School commemorates its 150th anniversary.
I am happy that the Alumni Association is honouring Shri Ashok Chavan, Hon’ble Member of Parliament and former Chief Minister of Maharashtra with the ‘Xavier Ratna’ award.
Shri Adi Godrej, Shri Deepak Parekh, Dr Eric Borjes and Shri Sunil Gavaskar are stalwarts in their chosen fields. They are not merely Xavier Ratnas; they are indeed Maharashtra Ratnas, and we are really proud of them.
I congratulate all the Xavier Ratnas for this recognition from their own Alma Mater in this 150th year of the establishment of the School.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Since attaining Independence, India has made impressive strides in the universalization of education.
At the time of Independence, India’s literacy rate was just about 12 per cent. Today the literacy rate of India is approaching 80 per cent, which is truly remarkable.
Education, advancements in healthcare, better incomes and revival of agriculture and industry have together resulted in improving the standard of living of our people. The average life expectancy of the people of India, which was as low as 30 years before Independence, has increased to a much healthier, 70 years now.
It is a matter of great pride and satisfaction that seven decades after Independence, India stands on the threshold of breaking into the league of developed nations of the world.
At this juncture, we need an education system that would produce thought – leaders in every discipline. For this purpose, we need to put in place an ecosystem that will encourage creativity, innovation, business, enterprise and most importantly, excellence in all areas.
For nearly 71 years, we have continued with an education system that was designed by our colonial masters with different goals.
The same education system has today degenerated into an examination-conducting system which lays emphasis on learning by rote. This education system is killing the spirit of enquiry, curiosity and innovation. The present education system is leading us to nowhere. We are merely adding to the number of unemployed in the country.
On one hand we are on the verge of becoming the youngest nation in the world, with an average age of 29 years. Yet, on the other hand, we are producing armies of unskilled young men and women who are not fit for industry, higher studies or for other jobs in the services sector economy. The spirit of enterprise and business is distinctly missing.
According to a survey conducted by TCS, the Mathematical and problem solving abilities of the average 21 – year old Engineering Graduate in India was actually lower than the average 15 – year old in OECD countries. (OECD – Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development)
It was found that our children study only from the point of the examination. This system must be changed; the sooner, the better.
We must focus on promoting lifelong learning, problem – solving skills, creativity and meta cognitive skills.
If we fail to change the present system and do not equip our students with good education, values, skills and discipline, our demographic dividend will lead us to a demographic disaster.
Dear alumni and teachers,
Teachers have the biggest role to play in transforming the lives of students and equipping them with the best of education and skills.
However, our schools are facing the problems of finding and recruiting good teachers. We need more teachers, passionate teachers and qualified teachers to improve across-the-board standards of school education in the State and the country.
We all are witnessing dramatic changes in the field of school education. Schools that have failed to recognize the emerging trends have fallen by the wayside and many have closed down.
Henceforth, schools will have to strive hard to attain excellence and maintain excellence. Past glory doesn’t guarantee success in today’s world. Excellence is a continuing endeavour. Schools that fail to meet the rising aspirations of society may close down.
Parents and students are seeking international learning experience from schools. Schools will have to constantly innovate, reorient themselves and understand what students want. Thought should be given to forging alliances with the best schools in the world and adopting the best teaching methodologies and practices.
Needless to say, School managements will have to empower teachers and develop their core capacities by providing them professional development support. Schools will also have to design curriculum with a global focus that will prepare the children for a world in which global employability and citizenship are seen as essential.
I do feel that the alumni of the School should play a more active part in the transformation and rejuvenation of schools.
Ladies and gentlemen and dear Alumni,
St Xavier’s School has been a pioneer not just in modern education, but also in sports, scouting, music, band and other co-curricular activities. The School has produced some of the best athletes, footballers and other sportspersons.
Today however, a majority of schools are paying scant attention to sports and games and other co-curricular activities. Many schools do not have a playground.
Recently, I had a meeting with cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar at Raj Bhavan. Shri Tendulkar proposed the launching of ‘Mission Young and Fit India’ across universities in the State. He made a simple plea that every child, every student and every youth must spend at least one hour on the sports field every day. We must think collectively, how can we revive and promote sports and other co-curricular activities in schools.
Today children are spending more time with electronic gadgets than on the sports field. Absence of physical activity is causing adverse impact on their health. Obesity among children is increasing at an alarming pace.
I would appeal to St. Xavier’s High School to continue to lay equal emphasis on the development of sports and other co-curricular activities like Music, Dance, Theatre etc in order to develop the all round personality of students.
Swami Vivekananda had said, and I quote: “We want that education by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased, the intellect is expanded, and by which one can stand on one’s own feet.” (unquote)
I will appeal to the St. Xavier’s Schools to maintain its academic autonomy and continue its march towards excellence. I assure the Management and the Alumni of my fullest support in your future endeavours.
Once again I congratulate the St. Xavier School, Management, Alumni, Xavierites, teachers, past teachers, students and staff on this momentous occasion and wish you all, Godspeed in your future endeavours.
Jai Hind ! Jai Maharashtra !!