However, Mar Ivanios also realized job skills must be part of the education process in a nation where high unemployment can be directly linked to poor, or no, training. Mar Ivanios sought to supplement the college curriculum by offering courses not then available in Kerala such as business administration. That tradition continues today and the students of Mar Ivanios are encouraged to integrate academia with courses in computer technology and other practical skills.
When he began the college, Mar Ivanios also wanted to offer courses in Syriac and scholastic philosophy. He felt these would be useful for the religious communities working in the Syro-Malankara Catholic Archeparchy of Trivandrum. Years later, in 1983, a major Syro-Malankara Catholic seminary, St. Marys, was built on campus.
In 1949, 145 students enrolled in the new Mar Ivanios College. Today, there are more than 2,500 students pursuing degrees in 10 undergraduate programs and seven postgraduate programs. Degree programs include economics, the sciences and liberal arts, tourism administration and mass communications. There are 120 full-time teachers at the college who are paid by the state.
Shirley Stuart, who for more than 30 years has taught at the college, said teachers must retire at 55 to help ease unemployment. But she said Mar Ivanios, unlike state-run colleges, does not require newly hired teachers to make a crippling high dowry-like donation to the school a practice that is common throughout India.
Students are admitted to Mar Ivanios regardless of caste or creed. However, special consideration is given to those who come from underprivileged castes or tribes and other minority populations. Mostly, the students are from the middle and upper classes.
George Thomas, a 20-year-old majoring in tourism administration, said Mar Ivanios is too good because of its excellent professors and curriculum. The National Assessment and Accreditation Council has recently ranked the school as one of Indias top 10 English-language colleges.
The newly constructed Mar Ivanios Institute of Advanced Studies has a state-of-the-art computer lab as well as a language lab offering courses in five languages. The main library has more than 52,000 books and subscribes to 73 professional journals.
At exam time, the hallways of the colleges vast lecture rooms are lined with backpacks and satchels while inside, diligent students labor over tests. In a chemistry lab, students concentrate in front of bubbling flasks and test tubes. In the same building, botany students peer through microscopes and physics majors carry out experiments in electromagnetism.
Mar Ivanios students excel not only academically, but they also excel in sports. In this cricket-mad country, Mar Ivanios is home to an award-winning basketball team.
In an effort to maintain contact with the community, the college has begun an adopt-a-village program. Students construct houses, build latrines and roads and also teach adult education classes in chosen villages.
At the golden jubilee celebrations, Mar Baselios said: I pray Mar Ivanios College stays true to the dreams of its founder and continues as a torch spreading its light.
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