Institutional Distinctiveness

St. Aloysius College in and for Kuttanadu

St. Aloysius College, Edathua is the only Arts and Science college situated in Kuttanadu, the one-time granary of Kerala. Kuttanadu is a geographically peculiar region in Kerala that boasts of many variegated features emanating from its culture, evolution, heritage and agricultural practices. At the time of the inception of the college, Kuttanadu was a remote hamlet heavily dependent on water transport and as such, the area lacked a proper road network. Lack of convenient transportation stood as the biggest barrier for all those aspiring for higher education from the region. Realizing the ground situation, St. George Forane Church founded the college in 1965, in a water-logged site which was deemed unsuitable for the construction of buildings. The management and the local people poured in their resources and efforts and transformed the then marshy land into its present state. 

Apart from its unique geographical features, Kuttanadu has a rich cultural heritage too. Famous literary figures like Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai, Kavalam Narayana Panicker, Kunjan Nambiar and cine artist Nedumudi Venu are some among the illustrious sons of the region. Art forms like Mudiyattam and a rich collection of folklore songs are the highlights of the region. Kuttanadu also contains many historically significant places like ancient Sree Krishna Temple, Ambalapuzha, the statue of Karumadikuttan (an ancient statue of Lord Buddha which historians speculate to be part of a Buddhist settlement) at Karumady etc. Most of the artefacts made and used in Kuttanadu cater to the needs of the region, especially the practice of doing cultivation below sea level. 

The unique geographic terrain carries with it many benefits as well as drawbacks. Therecurring floods during Monsoon every year and water scarcity during summer are the most prominent among the disadvantages faced by the people of the area. The water-logged terrain also aggravates the impact of pollution. Although road connectivity and educational infrastructure have developed over the years, the opportunities for education received by the students of the region are far less when compared to the students hailing from other regions. Even today, more than 50 percent of the students here are first-generation learners.

Being the pioneer seat of higher learning in Kuttanadu, the college strives to preserve the cultural heritage of Kuttanadu. The college also adopts all possible measures to address the issues faced by its neighbourhoods. Following is a list of activities undertaken by the institution to promote the cause of Kuttanadu.

1. Seminars and Workshops Addressing Kuttanadu

The college is keen to address the unique ecological issues faced by the Kuttanadu region. We organize seminars, workshops and discussions to enlighten the academic community and students and also to give recommendations to the agencies involved. The college has an “Aloysian Study Centre on Kuttanadu” (ASCK) assigned with the task of arranging educational seminars and workshops. The ASCK organized a webinar on the topic ”Below Sea Level Farming & Integrated Water Resource Management; What Kuttanadu can learn from the Dutch?” on Friday, June 05, 2020. The Indian ambassador to the Netherlands Mr. Venu Rajamony and Mr. Rakesh N.M., noted Architect, Rotterdam, Netherlands were the resource persons. The Hon. ambassador spoke about the need to foster the linkages between Kuttanadu and Netherlands, two regions with much geographical similarities. Comparing 1953 Netherlands flood with the flood that occurred in Kuttanadu in 2018, the resource persons explained the flood mitigation programmes implemented by Netherlands than can be adopted in the region. People from academic and non-academic fields, NGO representatives and farmers participated in the programme.

Apart from paddy cultivation, Kuttanadu is known for its fish culture and fishing practices. The Zoology Association of the College celebrated World Fisheries Day on 21 November 2019 and the best fish farmers of Kuttanad were honoured during the meeting. Smt. Binu Issac Raju, District Panchayath Member, Alappuzha was the Chief Guest. Nine fish farmers were selected as the bestowing on their contributions to the field of Aquaculture. A seminar on the “Prospects of Fish Farming in Kuttanad” was also organized on the same day. Dr Sary P.S., faculty in Aquaculture of our college was the resource person. After the seminar, Mr. Sonnel Noronha, Aquaculture specialist of the Kuttanadu, led an interactive session.

The Department of Zoology also organized a regional webinar on ‘Fish Culture in Kuttanadu: Challenges and Solutions’ on 08 August 2020. Prof. KG Padmakumar, Director, International Research and Training Centre for Below Sea Level Farming was the resource person. He gave a detailed description on the current trends in the aquacultural practices of Kuttanadu with a special emphasis on their advantages, challenges and solutions.  More than 90 participants (including fish farmers, academic experts and students) attended the seminar. 

To enhance the knowledge of our students on fish breeding and its culture techniques, a seminar was organized on the focal theme “Potential of Ornamental Fish Culture as a Business Activity” on 29 January 2019.  The resource person was Dr K. Dinesh, Head, Department of Aquaculture, KUFOS, Panangadu.  Dr.  V.S. Basheer, Principal Scientist & Head, National Bureau of Fish Genetic Resources, Kochi gave a talk on the topic “Biodiversity Conservation & Diversification in Aquaculture.” The class was organized to orient students towards fish farming. 

On World Environment Day- 2021, the “Aloysian Study Centre on Kuttanad” in association with the Community Resource Centre, Kuttanadu instituted by MS Swaminathan Research Foundation organized a panel discussion on the topic “Ecological Conservation of Kuttanad through Scientific Methods”. Noted scientists and experts, Dr. N. Anilkumar, Senior Director MSSRF, Dr. KG Padmakumar, Director International Research and Training Centre on Below Sea Level Farming, Dr. Harikumar PS Senior Principal Scientist CWRDM, Dr. N Sunilkumar Professor CUSAT and Dr. M. Surendran Associate Professor Rice Research Station Mancombu participated in the discussion. The programme was attended by academic community as well as activists and people from NGO working on this cause.

The intensity of the yearly recurring floods in Kuttanadu has increased after the great flood of 2018. There is a big hue and cry on implementing various measures to reduce the impact of flood in Kuttanadu. In this context, the “Aloysian study centre on Kuttanadu” in association with IQAC, organized a panel discussion viz, “Save Kuttanadu Campaign” on 23/06/2021. Environmental activists and noted social activists of the region like Mr. Antony M.V., Mr. Jayan Joseph Punnapra, Mr. Lijin Joseph, Mr. Johnson Champakulam and Mr. Unni Pulincunnu participated in the discussion. The programme was a platform to listen to the voices of NGOs and social activists on the issue. 

2. Efforts in preserving cultural heritage 

Our students are periodically given orientation seminars and talks on the tradition and cultural heritage of the region. We have set up a Heritage Museum with artefacts from the Kuttanadu region. The museum contains household items and agricultural equipment that were in use before the advent of mechanisation. Students from the nearby schools visit the museum to learn and acquaint themselves with the heritage of the land of their origin. 

NCC cadets and NSS volunteers visit places of cultural importance and clean their surroundings. Student visits to Karumadikuttan Statue at Karumadi, Kunchan Nambiar Memorial at Ambalapuzha, Sree Krishna Temple museum Ambalapuzha, Thullal Silpam at Ambalapuzha and Kumaranasan statue at Kumarakodi Pallana are some of the examples.

The NSS organized a programme titled “Nadanpattu Kalari” where folk singers were invited and students were given lessons on the origin and meaning of folklore.

The NCC also familiarizes the students with the rich folklore of the region by arranging training class and seminars. The college library maintains a separate section in the library for regional writers like Thakazhi Sivasankarapillai. Snake boat races are an important part of the cultural history of Kuttanadu. Students and NCC Naval cadets who are trained in boat pulling participate in boat races conducted in various parts of the district.

3. Eco-consciousness drives to educate students and the community at large

Kuttanadu is one of the most eco-sensitive areas in Kerala. Hence, it is very important to preserve the fragile ecosystem that the college is part of. Keeping this in mind, the college has incorporated this into the programme outcomes of both UG and PG programmes. The college makes it a point to educate its students through action-oriented programmes like cleanliness drives, tree planting programmes etc. The various clubs organize several programmes every year with this objective. Some of the prominent programmes include cleaning streams and removing water hyacinth at Punnkunnathussery, cleaning the stream near Vettuthodu bridge in collaboration with the local panchayat and cleanliness drives carried out at Edathua Primary Health Centre and KSRTC depots.

4. Flood Relief Activities 

Even though the intensity changes, Kuttanadu is affected by floods every year. During times of flood, the college opens up its infrastructural facilities for the people belonging to nearby areas. Flood relief camps are organized every year in the main auditorium of the college.

During the great flood of 2018, even the main building and classrooms were opened out to the affected people. The college organized a medical camp in association with St. Thomas Hospital Chethipuzha in one of the nearby villages at Punnakunnathussery after the flood of 2018.

The camp was organized by the NCC cadets and NSS volunteers. Our students also distributed cleaning and sanitary items among the people. The college with the help of NGOs distributed books and text books to students who lost them during the 2018 flood. With the help of Baharin Malayalee Association, our college provided financial support to selected families from the neighbourhood. During Covid-19 pandemic, the college auditorium served as Covid First-Line Treatment Centre.

5. Water Analysis by Chemistry Department

The department of Chemistry has set-up a water testing unit. It offers its service to the public. Our students collect water samples from their homes and vicinities to test their quality. The department also offers a certificate course on water analysis.

6. Extension programmes for school students

The various departments of the college offer their services to nearby schools on a regular basis. We visit them and invite school students to visit the campus. The Research Department of Commerce visited nearby higher secondary schools and organized a programme titled “Ignite the Young  Minds on Stock Market”.

The objective of the programme was to provide the students with an overview of the Indian stock market. The Department of English conducted “A Gateway to Better English” for the students of nearby schools. The self-financing department of English conducted a workshop for the teachers of St. Aloysius high school on the topic “A Guide to English Grammar”.

The Department of Mathematics organizes quiz and elocution competitions for nearby higher secondary school students. The Department of Physics organizes “Eureka,” a science exhibition for school students every year. The students of the Postgraduate Department of Zoology (self-financing) offer help and support to school students in preparing their projects and also in developing models for science exhibitions.

As part of World Fisheries Day Celebrations, our III B.Sc. Zoology students organized an exhibition of indigenous fishes of Kuttanadon 21 November 2019. The students of St. Aloysius Higher Secondary School, Edathua visited the campus and watched the exhibition.

The students of the Department of Zoology release newsletters every year to address matters regarding public health and distribute them in nearby schools and among the public. They have released newsletters on socially relevant themes like “AIDS: Communities Make Difference” and “Corona Virus: Its Epidemiology, Symptomology and Control”. 

7. Training sessions in swimming utilizing the water-scaped locale

St. Aloysius College has a proud history in aquatic competitions. The Arjuna award winner and Olympian Mr. Sebastian Xavier, Arjuna award winner and Asian Champion Mr. Saji Thomas (Rowing) and Surfing champion and Olympian Mr. Rocha C Mathew are notable alumni in aquatic field who have brought laurels to the institution. The college has a swimming pool set according to Olympic standards. The college water polo team and swimmers regularly bag prizes at University level competitions.

In brief, as an institution established in and for Kuttanadu, St. Aloysius College is bent on achieving and realising the goals set by its founding fathers.