UGC proposes compulsory course on rural community engagement across all UG and PG disciplines

UGC proposes compulsory course on rural community engagement across all UG and PG disciplines

New Delhi, May 6: Working towards the goal of fostering social responsibility and community engagement in higher education institutions (HEI), the University Grants Commission (UGC) may soon be introducing a compulsory course on the subject across undergraduate and post graduate courses of all disciplines. Besides traditional disciplines of science, humanities and commerce the course would also be introduced for students of engineering.

Carrying two credits, the course would be of 30 hours comprising of 50% field work

The Commission has moved ahead in the direction with a draft national circular framework that includes guidelines pertaining to the implementation of the proposed course. It would be a compulsory course of 30 hours carrying two credits. Half of the course would be theoretical in nature while the other half would comprise of field work. The proposed theoretical portion has been divided into four modules, namely- Appreciation of rural society, Understanding of rural economy and livelihood, Rural institutions and Rural development programs.

The framework has been prepared by a committee of experts with a vision to promote the practice of sustainability in infrastructure and functioning of all institutions of higher education. Besides other aspects, the circular recommends partnering with the local community while undertaking research initiatives. It also proposes that the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) may request the Ministry of Corporate Affairs to consider the activities undertaken by HEIs to foster social responsibility and community engagement as areas eligible for receiving CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) funds.

MHRD may request Ministry of Corporate Affairs to consider activities so undertaken as areas eligible for CSR funds

The circular mentions that although many schemes and programs have been undertaken by HEIs under community service, there was no formally designed compulsory course in community engagement that provided that could provide an opportunity for immersion in rural realities. The circular adds that the new generation of students are increasingly unaware of the local rural surroundings of their institutions.  The proposed course would help them learn about rural challenges and develop an understanding of rural wisdom and lifestyle in a respectful manner.

Prior to this, the Planning Commission under the UPA government had conducted a national review of community engagement in India about eight years ago. It had recommended fostering of social responsibility through HEIs. A couple of years ago, the Unnat Bharat Abhiyan (UBA) was launched under which HEIs were encouraged to adopt at least five village in their vicinity and work towards achieving better socio-economic conditions there.