Global higher education system is largely affected by the concept and practice of ‘Community-university engagement’. The Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA) carried out continuous lobbying, combined with discussions at various sub-committee meetings organised by the Indian government was instrumental in implementing the engagement agenda. Moreover in October 2014, the University Grants Commission launched the ‘CFSRCE’ (Centre for Fostering Social Responsibility and Community Engagement) scheme to encourage community engagement among several universities. As per this scheme, the UGC chooses eligible universities whose core objectives involve promotion of community-university partnerships. Such partnership helps in development of knowledge that improves the lives of people and fosters a participatory research in education. It also encourages universities to work with community based organisations in terms of planning and implementation of projects.
This scheme also intends to proliferate the integration of services, and experimental learning into the curricular and co-curricular education programs. It also intends to build neighborhood networks of the educational institutes and offer policy based recommendations, technical assistance to encourage community based engagement & social accountability in the higher Indian education system. The central universities, state universities and centrally funded deemed to be universities get assistance for development from UGC. They are also accredited by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council and supposed to get assistance from the UGC for setting up a centre.
The CFSRCE scheme emphasizes on the core essentials of community engagement by extending support to universities in terms of developing proposals that include diversified engagement options. These include research in joint partnership with communities for the promotion of knowledge transfer, mobilisation and distribution. The scheme also includes initiatives relating to associating learning with community engagement framework, design of new curriculum and courses, supporting educational practitioners to step into the educational arena, foster initiatives relating to social innovation and projects undertaken by the students. The community engagement program has been instrumental in providing solution to growing concerns in terms of educational sector’s contribution towards social upliftment.
Stunited.org believes that such community engagement program will help to bring the educational institutions back to society with greater attention of universities towards social development. The centre could also include the university faculties and institutions through the promotion of community commitment institution-wide. The centre would act as a virtual catalytic wherein it will get the fieldwork and teaching new courses done by the university faculties. Stunited also feels that the involvement of community in the educational programs will foster a practice of participatory research in order to improvise the current educational system. It will also encourage a culture of ‘learning from the community’ and knowledge co-construction. Stunited.org appeals to the educational faculties and all students and to be good listeners to the communities and transform education for the betterment of society, the nation and the world at large.
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