Monday, March 23, 2015

Educational Contributions of CMC in India and Abroad

Educational Contributions of CMC in India and Abroad


Blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara a great visionary of nineteenth century Kerala church recognized the importance of woman education and its impact in families and society of Kerala which was downtrodden due to the absence of a well-organized system, caste restrictions and communal barriers in the field of education. Though modern women empowerment programs were unknown to him, he was aware that the stability and sanctity of families depends mostly on well-groomed women in society.[1] He was also conscious of the social taboos which had tied up nineteenth century women. At an awful condition of women in Kerala, as a prudent and effective CEO, Chavara with the help of Fr. Leopold Beccarro OCD - then Carmelite missionary delegate of Kerala- in view of empowering women in the Church and the society, founded the first congregation for women in Syro Malabar Church on 13th February 1866[2], which was then termed as ‘Women TOCD’ and later bifurcated into CMC and CTC on the basis of rites.[3]Through this article we try to look at the contributions of CMC in India and abroad for the cause of education.

Initial Stages of CMC in the Field of Education

As per the vision of the founders Blessed Kuriakose Elias and Fr. Leopold, education is the first apostolic field in which CMC has concentrated. The education apostolate of CMC was inaugurated in2nd January1868[4]by starting anEducandath(boarding school) for girls to stay and study Christian virtues, handicrafts and three Rs, viz. reading, writing and arithmetic.[5]CMC started a school outside the convent campus and began its formal education ministry by 1872 October 16th.[6] Then onwards sisters have been actively engaged in educational apostolate;and thus participate in the mission of the church and contribute in nation building. The initial curriculum of the schoolmust be the expanded from of what they had started in boarding school (Educandath), which was comprised of cooking, music, languages, arithmetic, religion, stitching and handicrafts.[7]At the beginning stage theeducational efforts of sisters of CMC were of three kinds:
1.        Teach in Educandath- Boarding houses- It was meant for Christian girls where Christian virtues were taught along with basic education (3Rs) and handicrafts.
2.        Run and teach in formal schools [though planned to start in 1668, really started in 1872.][8]
3.        Run orphanages for financially backward people to stay and to do their studies in the regular school.
The educational work started at Koonammavu produced good result. Citing Nasrani-Deepika vol. 44/51 Father Valerian presents the words of appreciation the Jacobite scholar O.M. Cherian regarding the service of CMC sisters. According to him, the famous convent at Koonammavu which was founded by father Kuriackose Elias Chavara was spreading numerous blessings in the society.[9]
The great enthusiasm shown by the bishops, priests, and the parishioners in establishing convents, boardings and educational institutions attached to them supported the growth of CMC very much in the initial stages. Gradually convents and schools sprung up in the vicinity of the towns and the villages of Kerala. Sisters rendered their dedicated service even in places where transport facilities or the blessings of electricity had not reached. Sisters had to face very many difficulties in the initial stages to satisfy the government conditions to get grant, especially number of the students remained unfulfilled for many years. But struggles did not reduce their enthusiasm work for the growth of people.[10]More thrust was given in moral and spiritual formation of students and in imparting Christian values through life examples before studentsrather than words.
From the very beginning CMC focused on education of women and female children. According to the statistics of the gold jubilee year of CMC (1916), by 1913 CMC had established 13 schools. Among them St. Joseph School, Koonammavu (1872), St. Joseph School,Mutholi(1888), St. Joseph’s, Changanacherry(1894),St. Joseph’s,Arakuzha(1895),St. Joseph’s Karukutty (1899) St. Mary’s Ollur (1900), and St. Ann’s Edathiruthy, (1906) were girls schools. St Joseph’s school- Viakam and Immaculate LPS Pulimkunnu (1898) [started as girls schools, but later converted to co-ed],St. Theresa’s School, Manaloor (1905), St. Joseph’s LPS, Venthala (1909) and St. Joseph’s Chengal (1911) wereco-education schools. St. Aloysius, Paravoor (1910) washand over to Parish Church in 1914.[11] The contributions of these schools and later schools raised CMC as a major contributor in the educationalscenario of Kerala. At present CMC has 627 schools in the following groups.57 -Hr. sec. schools, 114- High schools, 110- UP schools, 106 Lower primary schools, 266 - pre-primary schools in India.[12]This list includes aided and unaided - English medium and vernacular state schools, CBSC, ICSE as well as ISC schools. CMC schools are often appreciated for peaceful and serene atmosphere, moral and spiritual orientation, systematic administration, good infrastructure, committed staff and excellent result.

Teachers Training Institutes

Henry Brooks Adams says, “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” Fr. Leopold, the co-founder reminded sisters to set exemplary life before students.[13] Understanding the importance of training and formation of teachers CMC began a new venture in education through teachers training institutes. St. Joseph Training School, Mutholi (1934) is the first teachers’ training institute of CMC. There after Christ the King TTI Pavaratty (1940), St. Joseph’s Training College Ernakulam (1946), and St. Joseph’s TTI Karukutty (1952) are founded. At present CMC has seventraining schools and two training colleges.[14] Many famous teachers those who extended their valuable service in forming the present generation in Kerala and outside are from these institutes.

CMC Contribution in Higher Education

Catholic colleges and universities should play a privileged role to provide intellectual leadership to the society and humanity by transforming the world through the optimism and hope, by forming people with a sense of justice and truth.[15]According to Kothari Commission report education of women is more relevant than that of men with regard to wholesome development of human resources, progress of family wellbeing and character formation of children. (Kothari, 1966) Having perceived the relevance of providing higher education to young women CMC took a major step in education by establishing St. Mary’s college Thrissur (1946), the first women higher education institute of India.[16]In the beginning it was affiliated to Madras University, but in 1968 it got affiliated to Calicut University. Apart from St. Mary’s CMC has three more colleges viz. Vimala College - Thrissur, Mercy College Palakkadu, and Carmel College - Mala. There are5703 women are attaining higher education from these institutes.[17] CMC is trying to reach higher education to more women of rural areas (3435) through eleven parallel colleges.[18]

Vocational and Technical Education

The aim of vocational and technical education is to develop the skills through diversified courses to meet the requirements of, mainly the unorganized sector and to instill self- employment skills in people through self-employment oriented courses. Imbibing the mind of the founders CMC had initiated vocational trainingthrough St. Joseph's Technical Institute established in Koonammavu in 1868 itself. It aimed at enhancing the status of women and to enable them to seek self- employment and thereby to attain economic independence. The girls were given training in making rosaries, scapular, embroidery works, church materials, and decoration pieces which became a source of income for them. Since 1922 this was raised to the level of a standard institution supported by the government. In 1922 another technical institute of the same kind was started in Karukutty. Apart from these two institutions recognized by the government, other such institutions were opened attached to all the convents and orphanages and thus provided a source of income for the women of the surroundings.[19]At present CMC has 20 technical schools. It provides various kinds of technical training including skills in computer technology.[20]

Non-formal Education

Apart from formal education CMC is involved in non-formal education too. Understanding the condition and life situations of people whom we serve in the missions, with a purpose of providing education for all and to have a greater equity and justice in the society CMC extends her service through evening classes, pre-primary education programs, free-tuition for students of government schools, classes for aged, moral and health classes for women and children etc.[21]; some places we have open schooling systems too. Many students who crossed their school going age and are working in different fields for their livelihood could appear for board examinations and, thus could improve their life situation and financial status through open-schooling. At present there are seven open schools for CMC.[22]

Education Apostolate of CMC Outside India

Educational initiatives of missionaries laid a foundation for growth and development in India. Blessed Chavara’s vision and contributions enhanced it in Kerala. CMC following the example of the founders expanded its mission to different countries abroad since1965-70. Mostly our service is extended in medical field; but in African countries and in two American states (Louisiana and Indiana) where we elongate our educational apostolate since 1977. In USA sisters teach catechism and Christian values apart from regular subjects.[23] In African countries sisters teach in diocesan seminaries and schools, but their concentrated effort is for imparting moral and spiritual education. There are three primary schools and a secondary school for CMC in the region which are the best schools of the region; apart from them we have one special school in South Africa for mentally retarded children and three vocational training centers in Tanzania and Malavi.[24]


As per the statistics of 2012, 1988 sisters are serving in the educational apostolate in CMC institutions alone, to educate 2,03,892 students.[25] Apart from this list CMC sisters are rendering their service in the diocesan schools tooalmost equal in number.In recent years CMC schools are concentrating on Total Quality Management under the guidance of general education councilor and secretariat. ‘CMC Education Ratio’ (2009) gives common guide lines to all CMC institutions to be faithful to the founders’ vision and to the guidelines of the church. Imbibing the vision of founders and strengthened by the divine love in contemplation CMC continue to offer dedicated service and quality education to foster the individuals intellectually, spiritually and physically, so that they may have a mature vision of life.

CMC educational Institutions in India and Abroad at a Glance
Type of Institutions
No of Institutions
Arts/Science College

Parallel Colleges

Training institutes

Nursing College /schools

Hr. Sec. Schools

High Schools
Upper Primary Schools
Lower Primary Schools

Technical Institutes

Open Schools

Source - Activity Report of CMC from 2009-‘2012, 2012, 77 &  129


[1]Kadankavil, T.,The christian family, a prototype of Heaven on earth, in the vision of Chavara inThe Lord of Heaven and earth ,2004, Bangalore: Dharmaram Publications, 210-230.
[2]Chronicles of KoonammavuConventVol. I, 9-13; Chronicles of MannanamMonasteryVol. II, 75-77. These will be referred further as CKC and CMM with volume number.
[3]Women TOCD was the first indigenous women congregation in the Syro Malabar Church. On 20th May 1887 Pope Leo XIII, through the Decree Quod Jam Pridem separated the Syrians from the Latin jurisdiction, (Bernard Thomma, 1916, 861). And thereafter TOCD got bifurcated into Syrian and Latin wings and now named as Congregation of Mother of Carmel- CMC and Congregation of Teresian Carmelites - CTC respectively.
[4]CKC I, 80-81.
[5]Jossy, CMCIn the Shadow of the Most High, Aluva: Mount Carmel generalate, 1997, 68.
[6]CKC II, 60.
[7]Jossy, CMCIn the Shadow of the Most High, 68.
[8] CKC II, 60.
[9]Valerian,MalankaraSabhamathavinteoruveerasanthanam, Mannanam: St. Joseph’s press,1938,
[10]Jossy, CMC In the Shadow of the Most High, 71
[11]Cf. Avila, Dhanya, &Mareena,ArivinteVazhiyeTapassamanassu: Collection of Analytical Studies on the Eeducational Vision of ChavaraKuriakose Elias, 2012, 84-95.
[12]Activity Report of CMC from 2009-‘2012, Aluva: Mt. Carmel Generalate,2012, 77.
[13]CKC II, 59-60.
[14]Activity Report of CMC from 2009-‘2012, 77.
[15] Becker, P., “Advance praise” in Globalisation and its impact on higher education in India, Bangalore: Centre for publication, Christ College,2006, x.
[16]Avila, Dhanya, &Mareena,ArivinteVazhiyeTapassamanassu, 2012, 97
[17]Activity Report of CMC from 2009-‘2012.
[18]Avila, Dhanya, &Mareena,ArivinteVazhiyeTapassamanassu, 99.
[19]Jossy, CMC In the Shadow of the Most High, 152.
[20]Activity Report of CMC from 2009-2012.
[21]CMC Education Ratio, Aluva: Mt. Carmel Generalate, 2009,51.
[22]Activity Report of CMC from 2009-‘2012, 77.
[23]CMC Holy Queen’s Province Through the Corridors of History- Malayalam, Sr. Cicy, CMC, Provincial Superior, 2003,319.
[24]Activity Report of CMC from 2009-‘2012, 129-130.
[25]Avila, Dhanya, &Mareena,ArivinteVazhiyeTapassamanassu, 100.

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