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Educated youth need to take initiative

Educated youth need  to take initiative
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Educated youth need to take initiative, Chukka Ramaiah, NITW, Aashayam. SOCH-A student war on Child Labor” was an event carried out by ‘Aashayam’...

A chain is only as strong or weak as its weakest link and a nation too is similarly as strong or as weak as its weakest or marginalised sections, for in an integral, inclusive development, nothing can be excluded or swept under the carpet. Whenever we think of the intellectual divide, the technological barriers and the linguistic hurdles which pull back our rural youth who have very few avenues to ignite their minds, when we think of the rich turning richer and the poor remaining beyond the empowerment zone for obvious reasons, we feel that any contribution by any Indian in the direction of bringing equity is a welcome gift to all of us. There are many committed workers in this area who do it out of their self-motivation and love for the nation and not for any awards or glory.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR,) or corporate conscience, in some cases goes beyond compliance to what the government insists on and engages in "actions that appear to further some social good, beyond the interests of the firm and that which is required by law." It is a welcome sign that from this April onwards, along with promoting rural sports, nationally recognised sports, setting up homes and hostels for women, orphans and senior citizens and measures to reduce inequalities faced by socially and economically backward groups and support to technology incubators in academic institutions, promoting education, environment sustainability, gender equality and eradicating hunger, poverty and malnutrition have also been included in the CSR ambit. The laudable work being done by our MNCs like Infosys and Wipro has brought new hope and life to many dark corners and it needs to continue multifold to support realise our national goals of equity and equality.

Right now we have many NGOs actively working, sometimes even with international support, cooperation from UNESCO too, aiming to ensure safe and happy childhood of vulnerable children on streets, to help them access protection, education, nutrition and health care. I visited many such organisations and felt proud of the commitment with which they were serving. This week I would share with my readers a new sprout in this social responsibility which sprang among the educated young minds and created a win–win situation for all involved.

I have often been harping on an ideal collaboration between universities and their neighbouring schools for a better bonding, strengthening of education, etc. This has in fact materialised, though not on the lines I suggested! On my recent visit to National Institute of Technology, Warangal (NITW), I was thrilled to see what the volunteers of ‘Aashayam’ were doing. It could surely be a model worth being duplicated all over our state and our country. Aashayam-to Literate India is a student based organisation striving to achieve 100 per cent quality education in government schools through the implementation of University-School Collaboration concept in NITW. It is the brainchild of NITW 2013 passed out, Mohammad Imran who came from a rural background in Mahabubnagar district and is effectively being implemented by NITW students. ‘Aashayam’ now expanded to three engineering colleges with 200 dedicated volunteers in two districts.

Waiting for some higher-ups to direct us in the right direction is one thing while taking the initiative on one’s own when they know what is to be done is another. These students have been doing on their own what we oft hear in orations by so-called visionaries. Under University-School Collaboration, they have collaborated with government schools, given week-end tuitions under their ‘Shiksha’ programme to academically backward kids from the schools, given guidance before the quarterly, half-yearly and year-end exams under their career guidance project, mentored the kids as if they were their kid brothers and sisters, held motivation sessions in the week-ends, invited them to visit the university, see the laboratories and other facilities, understand the benefits of technology and have a feel of what it would be like to enter the portals of such institutes of learning! My heart was brimming with joy when I heard what they were doing to help the orphans and neglected street children too. If the youth of our country know how to guide their younger brothers and sisters by holding their little finger, what more do we need?

“SOCH-A student war on Child Labor” was an event carried out by ‘Aashayam’ during the annual cultural festival of NITW, ‘Spring Spree’14’. Its objective was to identify child laborers and school dropouts in rural areas of Warangal district and rejoin them in schools. On February 17, 18 and 19, these volunteers surveyed 18 villages of Dharmasagar Mandal, Warangal district. This was done with the help of the District Educational Officer and headmasters, teachers of schools in the respective villages. A total of 160-180 children were identified as deprived of their Right to Education (RTE) in one way or the other. They had joined a few dropout students in their respective schools on the very same day.

I was one of the guests and spell-bound audience in the “Spring Spree” events. The schoolchildren were given an opportunity to show case their talent. Of course I appreciate the authorities in encouraging the volunteers, for without the unflinching support from the university authorities, the student volunteers could not have done all this so effectively. The schoolchildren exhibited their social and cultural diversity, got a boost to their morale and stood as a proof of what such bridges of love could do. It is when I see such inspiring situations that my hope in our nation’s future gets strengthened! There will not be any weak links to pull us down! May we have scores of such educated youth from every university and college with such noble “aashayams”.

(The writer is noted educationist and former MLC. He can be reached at ramaiah_chukka@yahoo.co.in)

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