Bengaluru: Student community service is evolving in the educational sector in India and showing encouraging signs from the academicians to develop student initiatives towards community work. CMR University, one of the leading and top-ranked private universities in the country is one such institution that has collaborated and worked with the Association of People with Disabilities (APD) as activation of this ingenious initiative by the students and management of CMR University.
“In order to achieve CMR University’s vision of nurturing creative thinkers to drive positive global change, it is paramount that all students across programmes are mandatorily engaged in community service activities as part of their university education through the Common Core Curriculum Community Service Program (CCC CSP). We believe that exposure to ideas, community work and reflection are important building blocks to develop active global citizens of the future – citizens who think globally but act locally.”, said Dr Tristha Ramamurthy, Provost of CMR University.
The MBA students from CMRU were touched, moved and inspired by the possibility of working with, motivating and empowering people with disabilities (PwD) to explore the potential to develop horticulture as a sustainable plan for their livelihood. They worked actively on preparing the soil, building containers and plant saplings. The whole activity had an emotional connection which made the MBA cohort more humane and empathetic towards their outlook to society and people with disability.
Riya Raju, a first-year MBA student from the School of Management, CMRU says “This activity helped me to empathize with the persons with disabilities and sensitized me to learn more about the challenges faced by them. Also, it was a moment of self-realization for the majority of my batch mates to learn about the alternative ways to a sustainable livelihood.”
While it was a mandate for the students to complete their curriculum with such community projects, what was different and unique about this involvement is that the focus was on driving community service with zeal, creating innovative methods and helping to achieve their objectives more effectively.
Student community service is a part of school and university curriculums in many developed countries. A report compiled by the Corporation of National Community Service Authors showed that there were 3.3 million college students involved in volunteering work and there are 62 million volunteers in America, young and old, which makes up about 25% of their population.
Indian schools have not managed to reach the level of urgency that countries such as the USA, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand seem to possess when it comes to student initiatives towards community work. However, the situation is looking up and awareness is spreading.
According to a Ministry of Statistics report from 2012, only 1.5% of India’s population is engaged in volunteering activity, inclusive of youth and beyond. The needs are aplenty but community involvement still needs to be worked on and CMR University has made a great start.