MAGIS: QUALITY AND ACCESS
The core of Jesuit education lies in Magis- “striving for the more”- a constant search for greater service to God by serving His people, especially the poor, the Dalits and the marginalised and “those who are weakest”. As enshrined in the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus, the principal goal of Jesuits is of others. Jesuit education focuses on formation of character of its students who would become men and women for others. This is the foundational philosophy of Jesuit education. This forms, in spirit and in letter, the ways by which we teach and the ways students learn in Jesuit institutions of higher education. The Ignatian tradition guides a formative process in and through teaching, learning and governance that emphasises the awareness of God’s active presence in human life in positive and life affirming ways. This leads the learner to become socially conscious to care for the other, men and women for others. Self, God/nature and others altogether form a triadic locus in which the learner forms her/his personality that influences social change. The Jesuit tradition has a distinguished history of five centuries and has in every age, in every place, at every level, pursued and delivered educational excellence. In Jesuit higher education, this ‘striving for more’ is understood in terms of the quality of education, the excellence in education and the access and the inclusiveness to this education it gives to the poor and the marginalised. More sharply, the Jesuit education strives for more in the creation of knowledge, the quality of knowledge, application of knowledge, and access to knowledge for the poor and the marginalised. Students are called to do their very best and to always strive for personal excellence in all aspects of life - intellectual, emotional, moral and physical. This personal excellence leads to concern for others. It is a love in service to the people on the periphery. The guiding principle in this is service of faith through promotion of justice that is integral to every work of Jesuits. This service empowers the powerless to become competent.
This is Jesuit Excellence. Excellence in education is not just accumulation of knowledge by memory but deeper understanding that makes a student more wise than knowledgeable. This excellence is not only in the quality of education that Jesuits provide, but also in the ways in which the students from the marginalised sections of the society, in the mission context of Tamil Nadu, the Dalits, are given access to this quality education. The quality education, in the Jesuit sense, should not be understood in admitting meritorious students and making them more meritorious persons. Instead, it should be seen in the ways by which we admit students from the marginalised sections of the society and provide opportunities, facilities and intellectual atmosphere that help them become creative, competent, committed and competitive in the lives they would lead after their learning in the Jesuit institutions. The competence they build through the education gives them inner wisdom to make proper choices in their lives. This comes from the Spiritual Exercises whose objective is to free a person from inordinate attachments and biases, thus enabling one to make free choices. These Exercises are based on the premise that people who are free enough to say that reality is good will recognize their own goodness and will live happy and fulfilled live. The choice must be meant not only for empowering oneself but also other. Men and women for others. This other-centeredness is developed in the process of learning that ‘stresses community values such as equal opportunity for all, the principles of distributive and social justice, and the attitude of mind that sees service of others as more self-fulfilling than success or prosperity’. The Jesuit education aims at formation of character and inculcation of values that is based on the world view of “Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam”, “for the Greater Glory of God”.