Education – kindling of a Flame.: Interview with Fr. George Pattery SJ, the POSA

1  In what way will you define the present education system of ours?

Our system is predominantly based on ‘teacher centred’ rather than ‘student oriented’ approach.

2. Having known the Assistancy education Institutes what is the need of the hour for us?

Jesuits need to move from ‘administration’ to ‘animation’ in education involvement. 

3. Education being the major Apostolate of the Jesuits, what are the ways we need to adapt to live up to the standards of our society?

It is certainly one of the major apostolates. Jesuit legacy of education focus on inculcating ‘creative and critical thinking’ in the students so as to enable them to be leaders in various fields of life.

4. What do you see as the few major challenges we Jesuit face in the South Asian Assistancy currently?

The major challenges to my mind are: i) shift in approach among the Jesuits from administration to animation; ii) to inculcate tolerant and inclusive values in the school campuses, iii) to educate our students in the fundamentals of ‘secular, democratic and human values’; iv) to initiate genuine ‘dialogal sense’ with regard to religion, culture and nation; v) to develop attitude of service among the students.

5. What sort of an Education system would you suggest for the children of today?

The present system seems to be heavily weighed on capacitating students for ‘jobs’ rather than educating their minds and hearts. The over-emphasis on technical knowledge at the expense of humanitarian sciences will tell upon the quality of future academia. Education should foster creative flourishing of the human potentials in view of social living and human progress.

6. In what way do you see the education system as a means to kindle a flame for the world?

Education should capacitate students to view life and world in great enthusiasm and invite them to contribute towards the growth of human and social consciousness. They should see potentials for growth as humans and view life as gift to live to the fullness – to the divine.

7. How can we have more of Inter-ministerial and Integrated approach in our ministries?

Compartmentalization is the mark of the present system, right from the school curriculum to the specialization in higher education. In the process we miss out an integral approach to life and work. This is also true of our engagements as Jesuits. ‘Social Jesuits’  ‘Education Jesuits’ ‘Spiritual Jesuits’ – we have compartmentalized ourselves; we need to bring ‘Jesuit legacy of conversation’ among us and in our various ministries. Conversation that goes beyond the superficialities of administrative tangles and personal preferences; a conversation that seeks, searches, finds ‘magis’ – the more of life.   

8. Can you share your experience as POSA, on our education ministry in South Asia?

Our men in education seem to be easily burnt out with administration; we have lots of administrators and very few ‘educators’; we have less and less Jesuits in the class rooms and more men in ‘offices’. We seem to produce ‘high results’,  but low ‘students’ - learners of life.

9. What is your message as Provincial of South Asia to the readers esp. those involved in the teaching ministry?

Let us choose to be ‘teachers and learners’ rather than administrators and managers. Let us walk into the sacred space of the class rooms to interact with our students on life, rather than to discipline. Let us turn our campuses into a space for ‘conversation that matters’. Let us be ‘leaders’ of the school neighbourhood who are perceived as ‘humble and merciful seekers’ of truth and love.

10. Ten Years from now, how do you wish the Educational Institutions in South Asia to be?

It should become a space for learning the wisdom of the humankind; it should become space for interacting with students of all classes, creed, race to go beyond narrow domestic walls; it should become a space for searching meaning of life hidden in the history of our land; it should becomes a space for growing up as genuine human being open to the Infinite; it should be a space that is open, sharing and inviting. Educational Institutions should become ‘sacred space’ belonging to all, occupied by none.


Fr. Sunny Jacob SJ

JEA SA Secretary