St Joseph’s College in Darjeeling is all set to begin a first-of-itskind ‘learning centre’ in the region next month, which will cater to students preparing for competitive examinations like IAS, IIT and JEE.

College officials today said that only metros like Kolkata have such learning centres in colleges, and claimed that the same would be much cheaper than other places offering such coaching. “Colleges and universities offer degree programmes with the purpose of developing the intellectual calibre of individuals.

Hence, the curricula of these degree courses enrich the students’ understanding and mastery of an area of knowledge. Today, time has come for our students to not only excel in their degree education, but also acquire multidisciplinary knowledge and skills. We want to create adequate opportunities for our students at different levels to acquire these skills within our campus, for which we have signed an MoU with the Alternative Learning System (ALS) at New Delhi this month with the sole aim to enable individuals to grow and become civil servants,” St Joseph’s College Principal, Fr (Dr) Donatus Kujur (SJ) said.

According to him, the ALS programmes follow a unique learning approach consisting of stages like workshops, training programmes for IAS entrance, among other things, with classes also being conducted through an expert line transmission from Delhi where the students can also interact with them during that session.

Apart from the ALS, the Centre here, which has been named the ALS IAS-St Joseph’s College Learning Centre, is also collaborating with the Awanti Program, also based in Delhi. “Awanti Program is a novel initiative of the IIT and Harvard Business School toppers that is aimed at mentoring for the JEE and NEET examinations.

Both ALS IAS and Awanti Program are known nationally for their scientific course design and dedicated quality faculty. The Awanti Program in collaboration with the College has already conducted a Scholarship Test for JEE and NEET for school students on 28 July this year, where over 500 students from different schools of Darjeeling wrote the exams.

The results of the scholarship exams will be declared shortly,” Fr Kujur said in a press release. For students still studying in schools from classes 9 to 12, coaching for the IIT and JEE will be held from four in the evening to six so that they can take it after school. On the other hand, students who have completed their colleges and graduates can enroll for the IAS course.

To make people aware of the new programme, the College is also organising a one-day Career Seminar on 2 August in the college, which will see Jojo Matthew speaking on the topic on how to crack civil service exams. Those interested can also register for the IAS scholarship examination on the same day, while in the second phase for students of class 9 to 12 (science stream), they can listen to Nitin Kumar on the topic of mega career awareness, Fr Kujur said.