Rajasthan government will soon introduce community outreach as a compulsory subject for college students. Most universities based in the state have been given a nod to grant academic credits to students for their contribution towards society. This is an initiative under the ‘Aanandam (bliss) scheme’ which allows students to choose the mode of service they wish to deliver. It can range from cleaning the campus to associating with a non-government organisation.
Students can also take up a group project for serving the local community. While the students are directed to do “an individual act of goodness each day” and record this in a dedicated diary or register, they are also required to take up one community service project per semester. This will earn two credits for a project in each semester or 50 marks for each project to be completed in four months.
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Mentors will review the project on a monthly basis and submit the report to the nodal officer of the college to compile and share with higher authorities. The principal will choose the best project report taking into consideration the number of beneficiaries and impact on society and will be uploaded on the higher and technical education website and college page. The best projects will get a state-level award and a letter of appreciation.
The state claims to be the first in the country to introduce community service as a subject in the college curriculum. The Ashok Gehlot government claims that it would help students develop a better understanding of the social and administrative set up as well as develop interpersonal and communication skills. “It can also be of value for those applying for admissions in universities abroad where community outreach has been a part and practice of the academic process of several colleges,” the official statement read.
Secretary Higher and Technical Education Shuchi Sharma said, “It has been felt for long that our education system is not generating a happy youth. There is a need of holistic education. Therefore, Aanandam is being introduced as a mandatory credited subject in the curriculums of higher and technical education. It will nurture the leadership qualities among our youth by connecting them with the community and its problems. It will make them more understanding and empathetic. It will reorient the purpose of education and in the long-run towards real happiness.”
A suggestive list of projects issued by the government which can be undertaken as part of the scheme includes literacy programs, livelihood projects, projects to build awareness for government programs, holding sessions for yoga, meditation or physical exercises, etc, activities for restoration of art and culture, first-aid training and animal care among others.