The world today is fraught with inequalities and other pressing social challenges. In such times, education can make a difference, if and only if the education providers leverage mere erudition towards conscientized and thus holistic learning. The Social Involvement Programme (SIP) of the College serves as that lever by linking the classroom and campus with social reality and all sorts of depravations. The main objectives of the SIP Department are:
Generating Social Awareness for Sensitization: Our FY students got involved with Non-Government Organizations (NGOs). With these NGOs, the student-volunteers committed themselves to reduce vulnerability among children, the elderly, differently-abled and women.
Motivating students to engage with India’s socio-economic realities: Through their involvement, students raised crucial questions and made meaningful interventions in gender, public health, poverty, illiteracy and undignified livelihood issues.
The following is a summary of the SIP Department’s contributions for 2019-20:
In the 2019-20 academic years, 869 students had completed the obligatory component of the S.I.P, with the class-wise distribution shown in Figure 1:
Figure 1: SIP Completion Status
Data on Social issues involved with:
Figure 2 shows that a majority of the students were immersed in the education of children (71%), including Students With Disabilities (16%). The other relevant issues included: Women (1%), Elderly (3%), Health (3%) and Spreading Social Awareness (6%).
Figure 2: Status of Social Issues Involvement
Other SIP Department Initiated Activities:
Examination support to Students with Disabilities (SWDs): Through the mediation of the SIP Department, student examination-writers were made available to SWDs.
Gifted-Stationery Assistance: Throughout the year various donated stationery materials were gathered and given to NGOs in the urban and rural areas by the SIP Department.
Department-centric SIPfor the academic year 2019-20
Since the introduction of this activity, all the College Departments have responded by being innovative in curating social activities based on their core discipline. This has helped the College in ensuring that social consciousness is brought into its curricula and pedagogy. The activities carried out by the departments ranging from working within the campus (in fact inside the concerned Department) to engaging with school students far beyond the college campus. Some of the activities that were specially undertaken by departments were:
Students helping in the archiving of scientific data and information which would be used universally by scholars (Botany Department)
Helping underprivileged children with their studies and Municipal Schools with teaching aids (prepared by the student-volunteers) (English Department)
Preparing items for sale, the proceeds of which would be donated to financially support tribal or financially strapped schools (Commerce Department (for Arts) and Department of Business Studies)
Assisting peers with their studies through the Buddy System (Mathematics Department, Commerce Department (for Arts)
Compiling a Hindi Dictionary (with Student-Volunteers contributing the words and the meaning and helping in the layout) for economically weaker students studying Hindi. (Hindi Department)
Planting saplings in areas that have been earmarked for reforestation and then placing the name of the tree and its salient features in Hindi (Hindi Department)
Developing and nurturing a Herbal Garden in the college campus (Political Science Department)
Assisting students who are new to Mumbai by helping them navigate their routine and student life through the hustle and bustle of this city – and thus create confidence in such individuals. (Psychology Department)
Cleaning up historical and tourist sites in an ecologically and geologically correct manner (Geology Department).
Preparing academic material for visually challenged students under the aegis of XRCVC (Department of Sociology and Anthropology)
It is estimated that more than 96% of students from both the Arts and Science faculties had participated in the activities mentioned above. The testimonies of these students indicate that the college has achieved its goal of sensitizing students as well as making them community assets through the particular course that they have studied. The benefits listed by student-volunteers in their testimonies span across increased social awareness, experiencing the joy of giving (after being a receiver for so long), a better understanding of how macro-level policies fail to deliver, Upscaled sense of contentment in seeing someone else do better because of the assistance offered by the student-volunteer and finally an increased sense of gratitude for what one has (after seeing that others do not have even a quarter of that). A collateral benefit that has been noticed is that the faculty members in the department have enhanced their sense of social commitment too, along with seeking ways in which their scholarship can be of use to society at large.