The Sikshanamandira is situated in the midst of a peaceful and beautiful campus in the proximity of the sacred precincts of Belur Math, Howrah, West Bengal. The site is at a distance of about one furlong to the west of the river Ganga and about two furlongs to the east of the Grand Trunk Road, which is linked to the Howrah Station and the Dunlop Bridge by regular bus service. It is easily accessible by two local rail stations (Belur Math & Belur stations) and by the regular ferry service on the Hooghly River.
Sikshanamandira aspire to be a pioneer teacher education institution actualizing Swami Vivekananda's educational vision by making competent and committed teachers and teacher educators and also to be a research institute that continuously responds to changing social needs through the discovery, development and application of knowledge.
1. To develop modern teachers equipped with a universal outlook having scientific tools and techniques of teacher education and yet, are rooted in Indian cultural, moral and spiritual values. .
2. To facilitate of autonomous researches in the area of teacher education and dissemination of that knowledge;
3. To support discovery and development of knowledge through M.Phil., Ph. D. and other Diploma Programmes and post-doctoral scholars;
4. To study interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary approaches in academic and research areas;
5. To make partnership with national and international institutions.
Goals and Objectives:
1. To develop curriculums reflecting modern outlook together with Indian cultural and spiritual values.
2. To develop new academic programmes and revised/modernise current programmes to keep pace with the changing socio-economic-cultural-moral scenario.
3. To promote and conduct educational researches, and experimentation of innovative ideas and practices.
4. To create ICT infrastructure that is supportive of academic and administrative needs.
5. To conduct in-service and pre-service teacher education programmes to upgrade teaching efficiency of prospective teachers.
6. To develop and exhibit learning- teaching materials and ICT materials.
7. To promote computer competency for students, faculty and stuff.
8. To provide consultancy, guidance and counselling services.
9. To increase awareness of student support services, policies and campus events among students.
10. To support & encourage staff for personal academic growth.
11. To promote healthy practices such as community services, extension activities, co-curricular activities, projects for the benefit of the society.
12. To maintain a useful, integrated and user-friendly management information system.
13. To promote communication, cooperation and shared decision making among administrative and academic departments.
14. To ensure and sustain the institutional values and standards to highest level.
1. Truth - in the pursuit, generation, dissemination, and application of knowledge.
2. Freedom - of thought and expression
3. Respect - for diversity and the dignity of the individual
4. Responsibility - as towards of the environment and citizens of the world.
5. Excellence - in intellectual, personal, and operational endeavours.
6. Integrity - in character and knowledge.
7. Innovation - in thinking and application.
The College: at a glace:
♦ Established in 1958 by Srimat Swami Vimuktanandaj i Maharaj (one of the architects for actualizing the educational vision as was envisaged by Swami Vivekananda), as a Residential Teachers' Training College for male students sponsored by the Govt, of West Bengal and affiliated to the University of Calcutta.
♦ Recognized by the National Council for Teacher Education (the NCTE fixed the intake capacity for B.Ed, course at 150) in the year 2002-03.
♦ Upgraded to a College of Teacher Education (CTE) by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Govt, of India in the year 2001. At present it is one of the five CTEs in West Bengal (other three CTEs are Institute for Education for Women, Hastings House, Govt College of Education, Banipur, Siliguri B.Ed. College and Govt. Training College, Hooghly).
♦ Accredited by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (N AAC) in 2007 with an'A'grade.
♦ Upgraded into a post graduate College by the NCTE (the NCTE fixed the intake capacity for M.Ed, course at 35) in the year 2008.
♦ On the recommendations of the University Grants Commission, the University of Calcutta conferred the status of an Autonomous College in favour of this institution in 2008.
♦ M.Phil, in Education was initiated in the year 2012-13.
♦ Post-graduation Diploma in Guidance and Counseling started in the year 2013.
♦ Recognized as a Study Centre of Netaj iSubhas Open University for conducting ODL B.Ed. (with 200 students) in 2013.
♦ Recognized as a Study Centre of West Bengal Board of Primary Education for conducting ODL D. EL.Ed. (with 100 students) in 2013.
♦ Obtained approval from the University of Calcutta to have a Research Centre so that it may conduct Programmes like Ph.D. and other research courses.
Here is a Brief History of The College:
Sikshanamandira came into being in 1958 as the third Teachers’ Training College of West Bengal. The first prospectus depicts in its own language, the aim of this college:-
“To trend teachers so as to make them fit instrument for imparting right type of education to the younger generation of education. The enterprise is a step towards the realisation of a big educational scheme of the Ramakrishna Mission Saradapitha. The Sikshanamandira has been made wholly residential to enable the trainees to leave a community live for imbibing a spirit of service and mutual co-operation, learn self help and pay individual attention to their studies”.Swami Vivekananda said: “My idea of education is personal contact with the teacher - gurugrihavasa.Without the personal life of a teacher there would be no education. Take your Universities. What have they done during the fifty years of their existence? They have not produced one original man. They are merely an examining body. The idea of the sacrifice for the common well is not yet developed in our nation. One should live from his very boyhood with one whose character is like a blazing fire and should have before him a living example of the highest teaching” (My India, The India Eternal , p.-56).
Now to meet this aim the Sikshanamandira was framed as a residential college for the teacher community to be nurtured with Swamiji’s ideas on education. It is needless to say that the responsibility goes out-right with the teachers to train the future generation of a race up.
Swami Vimuktananda (Upen Maharaj), a visionary monk of the Ramakrishna order, was the first one to start with the ideas of today’s Saradapitha. He actually started from the scratches, and toiled beyond our fancy to real his visions. Vimuktanandaji’s was the life in which the ideals of karamayoga, as propounded by Vivekananda, found its true medium of translation. A senior monk recapitulates: “Swami Vimuktanandaji once asked us, ‘which stage, do you think, of work helps us to pure our mind?’ We answered, ‘The infantile stage, of course’. In reply he told, ‘Yes, the infantile stage truly educates us, but there is a stage more important than it. Suppose we have resolved for a work and it is yet to start - that particular phase of oscillation provides us more dependency on God, more calmness of mind, and more negation of the idea of doer-ship. And again you must know this phase really helps us to attain the purity of mind which Swamiji declares the aim of Karmayoga”.
His realization surely awares us his struggle with the adversities in the unfoldment of the scheme of Saradapitha. An unique loving sole as he was, Upen Maharaj always would shower his love and affection to each and every one. After a former student of Sikshanamandira (presently a monk of this order): “He was truly a master of all trades. In the field of work he was a Hercules, as it were. He was able to fuse developments of head, heart and hand within himself. For the sake of work different types of personalities would daily visit him; but none was there without being moved by his serene behaviour. It is not that strictness was unknown to him; but that was very much for the time being. Like an incense stick he burnt himself and towards the directions diffusing its fragrance, sweet and pure.”
Most Rev. Swami Virajanandaji, the Sixth-President of the order once remarked, “Swamiji has totally taken over Upen”. Perhaps, for this reason, Upen Mj. felt an irresistible urge to set a Teachers’ Training College up to accelerate the moderate formation of our future generation. The Belur Math authority, also, showed their interest, and decision was taken that according to the sponsored scheme of the West Bengal Government the progression should be headed. It was 1957, and nobody was there ready at hand to assist Upen Mj. in this project. But an indomitable spirit as he was, Maharajji resoluted to start the academic activities of the proposed college sharply from the month of July of the forthcoming session. He never thought to limit the whole training project, only within the academic areas; the trainees should reside in the hostel adjacent to be acquainted with the character building idea of Swamiji, was his dream. But unfortunately the selected land appeared as the first impediment before him; because, at that time the landscape was rather marshy, full of bogs and ponds, some portion of it was covered with long grasses and remaining were fields. In those days considerable was the threatening of the shortage of funds but his zealous nature dared to ignore it and started taking necessary steps to overcome the land.
The Holy Birth Anniversary of Swamiji, eventually, coincided with the 12th January in the year 1958. On that very occasion most Rev. Swami Visuddhanandaji, the then Vice-President of the Ramakrishna order, laid the foundation stone of the proposed college. Rev. Swami Madhavanandaji, the then General Secretary, with many other monks and dignitaries studded the ceremony. A small discussion session was, also, conducted. Personalities like Dr. Kalidas Nag, Sri Saila Kumar Mukhopadhyay and many other distinguished person, in that session, discussed over the Nation’s need for the trained teachers in translating into concrete the educational-objectives as propounded by Swami Vivekananda. Towards the end of the session all were at sea about selecting a suitable name for the institution. Swami Madhavananda wanted to have similarity with names of the other institutions under Saradapitha, and at length ‘Sikshanamandira’ was his proposal. The befitting nature of the new name, infact, found everybody happy, especially Upen Mj.
Now, the construction of the proposed college-building should have to be finished within the limited time, and to meet the challenge, the progression was also quick. Swami Digananda (Parvati Mj.) had to exhaust himself to what an extent day and night, as he was supervising the project—unimaginable, it appears today, to us.
With all its grandeur approached 14th July in the year 1958. Most Rev. Swami Visuddhanandaji Maharaj with his own hands, inaugurated the new college-building. At first the main gate-way was from the south; but now-a-days it overlooks the west. The change was inevitable for many an inconvenience—one of them was the hostel-block which at present is in the northward but in those days was thought to be erected in the southern piece of ground. However, the inaugural worship, rituals and homa were conducted in the big hall of the 1st floor of the college-edifice.
The Sikshanamandira started its academic journey from the 4th of August. On that very day, too, on the eve of the classes, a nice small congregation was called for under the presidentship of Rev. Swami Shasvatanandaji. Many distinguish monks, personalities and faculties from the various academic branches actually blessed the newcomer trainees by their seer presence.
But how was the picture of the total accommodations within the sole college building? It will be clearer if we start with the ground floor in which is situated today’s Library department, and in those days the big hall was partitioned to turn it into hostel facilities temporarily. Laboratories, Classrooms, Teachers’ Room etc., were also arranged in other rooms in the same floor. Kitchen, Dinning- hall etc. were also temporarily accommodated in a small erection under thatched shade. For almost one year Principal’s office, Library and some Classrooms also took shelter in today’s Shantibhavan. Which is an obligatory for hostel life, the prayer hall, too, was situated in the Shantibhavan having the Holy Trio within its heart. Thus a great dream was headed to unfurl itself from almost a scratchy bubble.
Upen Mj. himself accompanied with his grateful heart Most Rev. Swami Visuddhanandaji Mj. from the Belur Math in a car for the inauguration of the new prayer hall. Some respected senior monks were also invited. A senior monk recollected some of the events of that day: “We all greeted Maharajji as the car stopped in front of the main gate-way. Upen Mj. was the first person to come out from the car followed by Rev. Visuddhanandaji and then followed the other senior monks. What a beautiful scene that was! all stood still awhile and with their appreciating eyes they scrutinised the scenery around. Before them was the newly elected edifice of Sikshanamandira and beyond it and all around was the background of open green glade. One of the senior monks burst out with joy: “Ah! Upen, you have really cast a spell! What a drastic change, have you brought to this waste land!” I noticed Rev. Visuddhanandaji to shiver as those words got his ears—his face became grave and reddish. And I heard him saying with clear tinge of vexation in his voice, ‘What a shallow idea! don’t you know that His wish guides everything. It is better to say that Sri Sri Thakur Himself has brought beauty to this landscape.’ A little pauses—and then with an extremely absorbed mind again and again he said, ‘Why it will not be so? He is the true beauty behind the beauty—a mere touch of His and everything is more beautiful. He is the Greatest—anything belongs to Him bears the mark of greatness—any work associated with His name must be a great work. Wherever His manifestation is executed—everything in that place bears the sign of beauty and greatness. Such is the glory of the Lord. Why do you bewilder in that? Instead you say, through Upen Sri Sri Thakur is doing all these things. Moreover everything does not end with today. The far future will bring a great many things into existence. The Greatest and Infinite is our Lord—and His manifestations too are unimaginable. This college and the other things are just piecemeal of His manifestation. Therefore I prefer to say that Sri Sri Thakur has done everything and Upen has been the fit instrument”.
When the chance came, the Prayer-hall was sifted to the main college building and from then onwards conduction of daily prayer, Bhajan, Patha etc. were in a normal procedure. All the residents including the students and staffs of the hostel and the teachers, who would live in the hostel, used to attend the morning and evening prayers regularly. And the Prayer-hall, too, was so meticulously maintained that for everybody it was the place to regain mental peace and happiness. Many of the professors and students would visit the Prayer-hall, even, before the college hour daily. As, Sri Ramakrishna himself was the embodiment of ‘sarvadharma-samanvaya’ — the outlook of synthesis and generosity prevailed the mood of prayer, positively, in the Prayer-hall; because, reading of the excerpts from almost all major religious-books of all the religions for few minutes was mandatory. In those days Sikshanamandira used to observe Swamiji’s birth anniversaries in every year and as a part of it educational exhibition of very high standard used to be organised. Those exhibitions would last for a week and thousands of visitors would gather to be enriched in various ways. In such a day a devastating fire broke out in the main college building. From the memory of an eye-witness we can describe the night briefly: “An evening we have just called it a day and the exhibition-rooms have been closed — suddenly someone noticed smoke to come out from the first floor rooms of the college building. We all gathered there and were assuming the happenings inside, and then to our utter surprise we saw conflagration to peep out from the windows. Immediately the door was unlocked to find the science exhibition hall was under dangerous fire. All the equipments and furniture behind the fire-wall chattering mercilessly as the fire from the room also started venturing the other rooms setting all the first floor rooms in ablaze. Every one was under the impression that a mishap in the electric conductors might have been the cause. The fire brigade mediated within almost no time and four of their engines struggled hard for four hours to gain a very little ground till the midnight. The whole building remained impossible to touch for others due to intolerable smoke and scorching heat.
Now here was an incident that nobody even calculated. The neighbour room of the science exhibition hall was the Prayer-hall. Nobody ever fancied the condition that on the wooden alter there were the images of the Holly Trio, or from the walls hanging were the pictures of the saints and spiritual teachers. At about dawn when the fire has been extinguished we all with tears in the eyes discovered the whole of exhibition set-up as well as the Prayer-hall to be reduced into ashes. However when the fire appeased itself, in the Prayer-hall pictures of the walls were recovered from the heaps of the ashes; and what a marvel — the wooden frames and glasses as well had no chance to survive, but photos were as usual and untouched by fire! It seemed to us almost miraculous because the high heat actually deformed and melted all the brass and copper vessels. Another unimaginable sight was waiting for us — the altar and throne of Sri Sri Thakur made of tick wood still unburnt and untouched! But what about the image of Sri Sri Thakur?—he was no where before our eyes. We could think no more. In the meantime some one announced, ‘I’ve got it, I’ve found it’. A fellow student was sobbing in his own room embracing the image within his own arms. Afterwards, we came to know that ignoring the fire the student entered the Prayer-hall to remove the image. In fact he at that unfortunate night saved our heart. And with the first rays of the sun the indomitable Sikshanamandira again gathered in the ground floor hall for the ‘Morning Prayer’ before the same living image of Sri Ramakrishna!”
With the passing years as the periphery of functions were increasing a dire need for a separate hostel accommodation was also pressing hard. The 13th January of 1996 marks the day of installing foundation stone for the separate hostel building. Rev. Swami Santanandaji laid the stone and many of the senior monks from Belur Math attended the ceremony. The huge building took almost one and half year to be worthy for the purpose, and, at last, on the 5th July, 1967, Most Rev. Swami Vireswaranandaji, the then President of the order blessed it on the occasion of its inaugural ceremony. Thus, actually from the July of 1967 the Sikshanamandira emerged as a complete infrastructure with residential facility for 200 students. The entire college building, from then on, remained only for the college; the big hall in the 2nd floor was named as the ‘Vivekananda Mandap’, and its counter part in the 1st floor, serving erewhile the purpose of the Prayer-hall for the hostel, was renamed as the ‘Ramakrishna Hall’.
Swamiji said “At present we need ‘gurugrihavasa’ — the same way as of old. But with this education has to be combined with modern western sciences. Both these are necessary — mind it — Vedanta has to be combined with Western Science. The guiding motto should be Brahmachrya and also Shraddha and faith in one’s own self. Independently, English and Science should be taught with the traditional education of our country.” The aim of the Institution according to the prospectus of the session 2005-06 also echoes the same idealism: “The aim of the Sikshanamandira is to train teachers who will harmonise professional competence with high idealism and seek to implement the educational vision of Swami Vivekananda in a practical manner. To implement Swamiji’s ideal of man-making and character-building education, the nation needs teachers who are equipped with a modern outlook in the tools and techniques of education and yet, are rooted in Indian cultural, moral and spiritual values. The Sikshanamandira aims at attaining this result by blending the regular teacher training course with practices based on Indian values”.
From the very beginning of this century the Sikshanamandira is trying its best to attend the goal, through various means of modernisation. Laboratories for Language, Psychology, History and Mathematics have been furnished. Computer Laboratory has been totally remodelled, and all the departments are now equipped with the facilities of Internet. The Library too not remained neglected. It is, worth mentionable that a Journal ‘Sikshachintan’ (ISSN: 0973-5461) on Science and Philosophy of Education published by this Institution has been abled to secure International attention.
In the year 2001 the Sikshanamandira was awarded the dignity of CTE (College of Teacher Education) by the Hon’ble Ministry of Human Resource Development of the India Government. The other five colleges of West Bengal who also share the same status are Banipur Govt. Training College, Hooghly Govt. Training College, Hastings House, Siliguri Teachers’ Training College and Kalyani University. It has been rightly pointed out by the National Policy of Education in the year 1986 that to develop the quality of Secondary Education the urgency of professional training for the teachers along with the B.Ed. training is inevitable. The surge of world of knowledge and information-explosions at rapid interval are enhancing the posing need. Teaching methodology is also evolving day-by-day, and lack of teachers’ acquaintance with these revolutionary changes results in the exploitations of the students. Accordingly the nation suffers from the development stagnancy and gives way to inferiority. This is one of the roots of terrorism, communalism and national disintegration. Therefore all hail to the steps taken by the Hon’ble Ministry of Human Resource Development. On the other hand the CTE programme reminds us the sermon of Sri Ramakrishna: “As long as I live, so long do I Learn”. Sikshanamandira in the year 2003 earned recognition from NCTE (National Council of Teacher Education) which is a must for any Teachers’ Training College for its validity.
Again, another important milestone — the accreditation of ‘A’ grade by the NAAC (National Assessment & Accreditation Council), an Autonomous body under the UGC (University Grant Commission), in the year 2007, marks the involved spirit of all the students, teachers and staffs for the welfare of the college. By the way, it is worth mentionable here that the Sikshanamandira is the only teachers’ training college of the West Bengal recognised by the NAAC as an ‘A’ grade institution in this field. Their report reads thus: “Ramakrishna Mission Sikshanamandira is a premier teacher training institution of West Bengal. The goals and objectives of the institution is to actualise Swami Vivekananda’s educational vision i.e., to impart life building, man making and character building education through a balanced combination of secular and spiritual training. Such goals and objectives are clearly reflected in the academic programmes and in the whole environment of the institution”.
The year 2008 was the golden jubilee year for this institution. This was rightly an occasion to be nostalgic, happy and proud for the successful journey treaded. But more dignity and self-respect was still to come. Recently in the outset of the year 2009 the UGC has awarded this institution the ‘Autonomous-status’. From this session 2009-10 by the right of the ‘Autonomy’ Sikshanamandira has successfully furnished a new advanced syllabus for attaining the desired end, the propelling power behind the emergence of this institution in the year 1958 and which is recorded in its first prospectus. Besides, the institution has started conducting examinations and publishing results and certificates of the trainees, itself, and introducing new department (M.Ed.), faculties and training facilities, which will, we believe, accelerate the growth of the nation.
When the news of the first publication of ‘Sandipan’, the magazine of this institution, was brought into the Most Rev. President Maharaj Swami Sankaranandaji in the year 1960 — he rejoiced the news and told Upen Maharaj, “Very good. Whatever is done with the name of Sri Sri Thakur brings good, no doubt.” It is our humble prayer to the holy lotus fit of the Godhead of the Sikshanamandira, Sri Ramakrishnadeva, that those word should live in the hearts of all the teachers, staffs, students, and associates for ever.