2015-16 to 2019-20
The objectives are propelled by the Jesuit principle known as the MAGIS – in which all stakeholders are provoked to make efforts far beyond the minimum or the normal expected of each of the members of the Institution. Based on this philosophy, the objectives of the Social Involvement Programme are:
To inculcate into its budding scholars a critical consciousness of India’s social, economic and political realities.
To bring about a socially relevant connection between the curriculum across disciplines and social reality.
Empowering students with the determination of being men and women for and with others.
Context and Challenges
The SIP activities are worth 2 non-academic but compulsory credits. Every First-Year student of the College, across all streams, has to offer at least 45 hours of voluntary social service with one of the 250 NGOs that the SIP Department networks with and 5 hours of Discipline-Centric social work with any of the College Departments or Associations. The SIP Department with its 2 qualified Social Workers, a Senior Faculty member as its Head and a clerical support staff works with NGOs that offer their services across various social issues in Mumbai city and its suburbs.
The primary challenges faced are:
Convincing parents and students that offering real-time voluntary service in deprived urban spaces make their education more wholesome and meaningful.
Motivating departments/associations to curate social activities which have strong connections to the core of their discipline.
The following are brief descriptions of the social activities undertaken by the students with the NGOs across Mumbai and its satellite urban spaces:
Health Issues: Students conduct awareness sessions on the prevention of diseases like TB, HIV, diabetes and malarial diseases. They also help social workers, paramedics and doctors during medical camps organised in urban slum communities. They assist the Medical Social Workers in the Community Centre of the Hospitals to guide economically poor patients. Some students also engage with poor children who suffer from cancer and such diseases by conducting entertainment sessions for them in NGO centres.
Literacy Programmes: By assisting in formal and informal educational programmes, students help economically vulnerable children by conducting remedial teaching sessions for them in the NGO centres. Some student volunteers conduct language enhancement classes for underprivileged vernacular medium students within the college campus itself.
Livelihood Advocacy: Students, through the appropriate NGOs, indulge in skill-building activities for economically challenged individuals. The students also train and/or assist poverty-ridden families in making saleable items from recyclable materials.
Support for Destitutes: Through this service, students, through the mediation of concerned NGOs, help poor city dwellers in acquiring Government issued Identity Cards, such as Aadhar Card, Ration Cards Voter ID Card and PAN Card.
Assisting the Differently-Abled: Through this service, students aid those who are visually challenged as well as those with physical and intellectual challenges. Here, students serve as ‘shadow teachers’, examination writers, readers and digital transcribers of study and non-academic materials.
Women's Concerns: Through NGO mediation, students help in spreading awareness about the evils of domestic violence, girl-child abuse, dowry and other feminine issues. Students assist NGOs working with Self-Help Groups and adult literacy programmes.
Elderly Care: Here students engage with senior citizens who live in Homes for the Aged. Students spend quality time with these elderly inmates involving them in various leisurely indoor activities.
Discipline-Centric Activities for student-volunteers are being curated by every department, to make our academic courses relevant to society’s needs. These activities include, among others, student-volunteers: offering municipal schools teaching aids designed by them, academically complementing school teachers, holding remedial classes for their college peers, assisting poor people in getting national identity documents, being trained in water-testing techniques and organising cleanliness and tree plantation drives in public spaces.
Evidence of success via Student Volunteers' Testimonials
Jahnavi Pandya (2015-16 Batch): SIP has made me realise that is my duty to give back to society, as it has given me so much. From what SIP has sown in me, I draw inner strength and motivation to meaningfully conduct seminars on ‘Pre-Examination Stress Management’ at the school level, nationwide as well as for inmates of Mumbai’s Dongri Juvenile Observation Home. SIP has inspired me to stimulate others to help those in dire need. Through my Facebook posts, I raised almost one lakh rupees in a week and over Rs. 35,000 for a baby in medical need.
Kanak J. Malu (2019-20 Batch): My SIP needed me to teach and interact with orphaned children in SPARC Shelter Home. Even today I am motivated by these children’s passion to make the best use of time and get educated in order to better their lives. While I worked with these children, I kept hoping that they and I grow academically and morally. My biggest SIP takeaway is the realisation that to become a source of inspiration, one has to constantly strain to keep the guiding light glowing.
XRCVC St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai
Literacy – Sneha Sadan, Andheri
Health – Tata Memorial Hospital, Parel
Women - Myna Mahila Foundation
Differently-Abled – Umed, Vasai
Elderly – Holy Cross, Vasai
Problems and Resources
Timetable issues for all student-volunteers.
Conflict among requirements, e.g., accumulating ECC hours, plus monthly CIAs.
Clash of timings between a student volunteer's availability and the NGOs requirements.
Faculty, burdened with academic and administrative responsibilities, cannot dedicate time qualitatively to this mandate.
Social workers have to juggle between being present on the campus to dialogue with student volunteers and going on the field to engage with NGO officials and monitor the student volunteers’ work in-situ.
Resources that the Department needs:
Continuous connective via phone and internet to be in touch with student-volunteers and NGOs
Shelves to store the new logbooks as well as those that come for evaluation.
Computers for registrations, communication and recording progress and complaints
Prior to the college becoming Autonomous (pre-2010), the SIP activities and performance were connected to the compulsory ‘Foundation Course’. Students then were expected to write assignments based on their brief social interactions with NGOs.
The number of hours for SIP voluntary service with NGOs has been reduced from 60 hours to 45 + 5 hours, since 2016-17
The Commerce section students are not expected to fulfil the SIP mandate, as they are mainly from deprived sections of society and work through the day