BEST PRACTICE -1
Title: Care for the Social/Other
The main objective of the initiative is to intimate the importance of the value of caring for the social/other against the upheld view of the care for the self. The programme also intends to prompt the students to involve in various activities which inculcate the value of caring for the other. The third objective of the programme is to make a context for the students to learn the value of caring for others from society.
The care for the social/other is an umbrella term for the initiative of the college that attempts to address one of the lacunae in the existing field of higher education, ‘social care’. It is largely acknowledged that the existing syllabus and curriculum in higher education are oriented towards the value of the care for the individual/self success and personal well-being, along with primary knowledge in their concerned discipline. Realization of these lacunae forced the academic community of the college to chart a few programmes and re-orient some of the existing ones as well to practically learn the value of caring for the other.
- Limbs for Life
- Swapnakoodu – Home for a Fellow Student
- Adoption of a Destitute Family
- Other Acts of Caring
The college, with the initiative of the NSS units has conducted two prostheses camps (in 2018 and 2021),namedLimbs for Life,to care for the disabled. The camps lasted a week and the beneficiaries were invited through public notice. The programme was charted in the way that the entire community of the college would manage major part from check-in of the differentially abled to their check-out after fixing artificial limbs. To care for the medical side the students sought support from a group of philanthropic medical practitioners specialised in artificial limb implantation and a counsellor, a physiotherapist and a nurse.
The programme was coordinated by the students. The first camp was devoted for transtibial prosthesis. The college has received 52 applications in response to the advertisement made through major dailies in Malayalam. The programme went through several stages including a week long camp. The students raised funds to meet the expenses for artificial limbs for 50 needy people. Two of the applicants, who could not be helped with implanted limbs, were given wheel chairs. The overall impact of the programme was that thestudents got sensitized and sentimentalized on the value of caring for the other. The success of the first programme inspired the college community to undertake similar initiatives. Though the continuity of the programme was temporarily halted in the year 2020 due to the Pandemic, it is now revived in 2021 by extending support to 56 needy people,therebyinstilling the value of care for the other to new batches of students.
The NSS units have a practice of regular socio-economic annual survey among students.They came to know in one such survey that one of their fellow students lives in a dilapidated house without any safety. Her father was bed ridden after falling from a coconut palm while he was doing his toddy tapping work. The NSS volunteers started dreaming of a new house for this student.The students mobilised funds through crowd funding and most of the physical labour associated with the mission was borne out by the student community. Finally, the dream came true in 2019, though the official key handing over function was held only on 16 July 2020, owing to COVID-19 restrictions.The total outlay of the project was Rs. 8 Lakh with 1700 labour hours from our student community till completion of the house. Apart from this, skilled labourers were hired for masonry, carpentry, concrete, flooring, etc.
The NSS units of the College adopted a women-only family of three members when the bread-earner became a cancer prey and bed-ridden. The other two members were mentally and physically challenged. The NSS volunteers deposited Rs. 50,000 as fixed deposit besides handing over Rs. 25,000 as an immediate assistance. Also, the family was served with necessary consumables at regular interims. The entire finance required for the project was collected as contributions from the students and faculties of the college.
Students had innumerable moments for caring the other within and outside home, and prominent among them are regular Blood Donation Camps, Lunch for the Desolate,Fund Mobilisation for a Kidney Patient, Digging a Well for a destitute family, Smart Phone Distribution for economically weaker students, Hair Donation Camps, Flood Relief Mission, palliative visits to Old Age Homes in Kannur District for spending a day in each month with inmates of the Central Jail, Kannur, for Cultural Exchanges, Southern Railway for Swachh Bharath Mission, opening campus for a day to those who are living on wheel chair and by serving them Onasadhya (Onam feast) and Kaineettam (gift of money).
Care for the Green was another remarkable project with subprojects cloth bag making, paper pen making, afforestation, anti-plastic campaigns, e-waste collection, and energy conservation campaigns.
The success of the programme can be assessed on two counts, first, by citing the examples of students increasingly involving in activities thatinculcate of the value of care for the other from the opinions of the general public. Our students are invited to be volunteers of a similar artificial limb donation camp organized by the Rotary Club, Payyanur, where they involved in activities leading to the implantation of prosthetic arms. A few of the students who volunteered for the programme chose Social Work as their major with an intention to become a socially committed being. Students formed volunteer groups and dedicated themselves to save human life from the 2019 flood in different parts of Kannur District. More importantly, the newly spirited students volunteered themselves as members of Rapid Response Team and later got incorporated into the JagrathaSamithiconstituted by different local self-governments. One of the reasons for organizing the transtibial prosthesis camp in 2021, notwithstanding the pandemic situation, is the constant request from the general public. Appreciating the initiative of the students, the civil society of Kannur has come up with financial support.
Problems Encountered and Resources Required:
The college hadinitialdifficulties in mobilising financial resources for such diverse programmes. The student community took active leadership for mobilising funds through gift coupons and the teaching community also madetheir donations. This demanded much physical work from the students which they did with devotion and a sense of charity. While the programme was going on, we did not have any means to check whether the students were internalizing the value we wanted them to embody. Therefore, after the completion of each programme, a discussion and an evaluation of their experiences had been organised to gauge the success of these philanthropic endeavours.
BEST PRACTICE 2
Title: Crossing the Barriers
Crossing the Barriers is an encompassing programme visualized to endow the students of the college with the opportunities to become critically aware of the means by which they are continuously being marginalized as women. It also envisages bringing them in contact with ideas and practices that attempt to challenge the gender bias.
Objectives: To enable the students to understand and reflect upon gender bias where they live in. To convince the students that the social exclusion of women is cultural rather than natural and hence it should be challenged.To make them aware that the existing curricula play its part for the continuance of exclusion and gender bias. To induce students that they can do all jobswhich mendo. A way to achieve these goals was by encouraging them to get in touch with ideas, individuals and events that challenge gender bias.Together, the practiceenvisaged to build economic independence, erasure of social disgrace, challenging prejudice on female potential, and prompt women to be the agents of social change through assuming leadership.
The Context: Being a women’s college, we holdthe responsibility to reflect upon the continuing gender bias in the society. Though the issue has been addressed from different angles and different locus, academic process remains still gender biased.The college feels that extra effortsare required to generate critical attitudes against gender inequality and to achieve this goal a long-term plan has to be designed.
The Practice:The college continuously provided an environment for students to challenge the elements ofpatriarchy in society through a set of well-sequenced programmes. The practice had threecomponents, the first one focusing on creating gender consciousness among the students through seminars, workshops, invited speeches and campaigns,the second aiming at encouraging students to become economically independent and the last component giving emphasis on engaging students inactivities which are considered to be in the masculine domain.
A series of sessions were organised for sensitising students on existing gender roles and on the requisites to fight for a just society. The world of cinema presents a typical case where gender bias is clearly visible. Except in acting and a few menial works, women’s presence in the film industry is meagre. With a view to breaking this myth, we have conducted aNational Film Workshop in 2018 with Ms Vidhu Vincent, a state award winning film director, and Mrs Bina Paul, an internationally acclaimed film editor as resource persons. In the interactive sessions, they communicated the need for more women entering in to film making for turning the art more inclusive. The workshop was highly beneficial in imparting knowledge on the technology behind cinema and motivating them to take a role in film making.
A seminar on women rights and the legal provisions aimed at the safety of women, ‘Nirbhaya’ was conducted in 2019. The senior women police officers and leading advocates participated in the two-day event. In another event in the same year, Smt. N. Santhakumari, a well-known gender activist, interacted with the students on gender equality and social justice. The students were asked to share an experience in their life which exposed the failure of existing societal norms to ensure their wellbeing. This was a revealing moment for them to reflect on the ground realities of gender relation in the society.
A panel discussion was conducted on‘gender dimensions in union budget’in 2020. Mr. Manesh, faculty of Economics, Nahar College, Dr.Sreeja K, faculty, Department of Economicsand Dr. Sunitha B Nair, faculty of Economics, Payyanur College have attended the programme as panellists. The discussion was an eye-opener to the students for understanding the ways through which women are being deprived of opportunities.
Daya Bai, an influential woman activist who fought for social justice of tribal people in Central India and Endosulfan victims in Ksaragod, Kerala, was invited in 2020 for interacting with the students. She instilled a spirit for social service with the dynamism in her talk. The students were able to engage a prolonged interaction with in which she has described her transformation from being a member of an orthodox family to an activist who changed fates of many for the better.
Another inspiring talk by Dr. M.G. Mallika, a well-known academician and gender activist on ‘Change Your Thinking to Change Your System’was organised in 2020. The session gave the students an opportunity to reflect upon how the socially constructed surrounding binds and disciplines them to be the second sex.
Every year, first week of March is celebrated asWomen’s Festwith discussions, debates, street plays and fine arts. The programme is so tailored to make it an opportunity for every student to be proud of being a woman.
As part of institutionalising the whole practice, a new initiative by the Women’s Cell Wednesday for Women has just been inaugurated in October 2021 with a campaign on ‘no to dowry’to spread awareness among the students to make strong decisions on their personal affairs in response to the dowry-related deaths took place in Kerala recently. As part of the campaign, many parents and students came forward with ‘no to dowry’ pledge.
Economic Independence as a Key
Economic independence of women is indispensable for redefining gender roles. An array of activitieswas conducted at the institutional level to impart skills on production of various items.The major ones are listed below,
- Natural Dye making
- LED Bulb making
- Glass Painting
- Artificial Jewellery making
- Soap making
- Cloth Bag making
- Training for Stitching
- Vegetable printing
- Beautician training
- Fabric painting
- Cake making and
- Candle making
- Bee Keeping
Apart from these, sessions were organised to impart financial literacy and financial skills including digital banking, entrepreneurship motivation and on self-employment opportunities. In addition, regular industrial visits were conducted to have a first-hand knowledge oforganising production units.
Breaking the Walls
The last component was to show that biological difference should not become a barrier for appropriating opportunities.This component was worked out through training programmes on
- Climbing coconut palmusing machine
- Rubber tapping
- Bush cutting with machines
All these are hitherto considered jobsexclusively for male. All these activities were undertaken in each year as a regular process from 2016 to 2020.
A workshop on mural painting was conducted in 2019 to train students in the unique traditional art form of Kerala and also to deal with the social convention that women should not paint murals. Since it is considered as a sacred art and the impurity traditionally associated with women caused social denial for their entry into this field.
Another step was to universalise the habit of bicycle riding among the students. Though this may seem to be a humble effort, its impact on their confidence was encouraging.
There are visible evidences that the efforts have started fructifying. A significant impact of the programme is that the students are increasingly coming forward in public sphere. A few of them contested in the three-tyre local-self-government bodies. A few have been elected as members to grama panchayath and one of them is now the President of the ChirakkalGrama Panchayath, a neighbouring panchayath where the college is situated. A few of our alumnae are now willingly engaged in works which were remained under male terrain. A few of them run independent business concerns as well. For instance, 2 students have rubber tapping as a part-time job, 11 students have started tuition classes for school students, 3 students have commercial home-based cake production and have succeeded to an extent in becoming economically independent.
Problems Encountered and Resources Required
The implementation of the programme required financialand physical resources like coconut climbing machine, sewing machine and bicycles apart from the expenses to buy various consumables as part of the skill training activities. The college got financial assistance from the District Industries Centre, Kannur and from the Kerala State Women’s Development Corporation. We managed to mobilise expertise through government channels, for instance, a trainer of Krishi Vigyan Kendra was the resource person for coconut palm climbing. With the active initiation from the part of Entrepreneurship Development Club and Women’s Cell, the programme is still going on in the college.