Dream Rainbow Project: Gandhi College of Social Work
There are over 1300 colleges of social work worldwide. India offers more than 10% of these programs but there is still a dearth of professional social workers in the development sector. In addition students who obtain a degree in social work very often do not have hands-on experience connecting them to the ground realities. Although many colleges begin to implement in-service learning as an educational strategy, usually such programs are offered in urban centres and offer at the most a one month 'exposure' to rural conditions. In developing countries there is a great disparity between metropolitan and rural life with mostly rural areas in need of social workers. As a result, some government-funded social and rural uplift programmes are hampered because urban-trained professionals fail to grasp the rural dynamics affecting local issues. By implementing the project presented below we plan to fill in this gap, creating a model of a rural community based college of social work education to foster development in the sorely needed category of social workers.
The goal of our project is to create a workable and replicable innovative institution of higher education that will not only provide students with adequate theoretical training but also with community based in-service training that is aimed at changing the community itself. We want to build a college that will be rooted in tradition as well as have the ability to meet local community needs. We want to create a college that will not only transform the local community, instil in its students a global perspective on local community issues. This will be assured by connecting the college with a strong worldwide network of higher education institutions in the process of developing curriculum, courses and opportunities for multicultural grassroots exposure for students.
The traditional courses lay a greater emphasis on theory, with a substantial weight (about 70 % of the grades) allocated to written papers with only about 30 percent of the grades awarded for practical work.
The Rainbow Dream College will be located in Bhitiarwa Ashram, Gaunaha, Narkatiaganj, West Champaran, Bihar, India. Bhitiarwa Ashram was the first venue from which the well-known Gandhian event 'Satyagraha against the Indigo Merchants' took place. The land for the Ashram , as well as for the adjunct Gandhi Memorial Museum, hospital, school and Gandhi Research Centre was donated by the Arvin family and currently is Panchayat owned. The complex that houses the Gandhi Memorial Museum is supervised by the Ministry of Culture and Youth. The Madanpur forest (part of the Valmiki tiger Reserve) is about 16km away. With the exception of the Museum, all the other buildings are neglected and require renovation.
The idea of creating a new college affiliated with the Gandhi Research Institute and Gandhi Memorial Museum while utilizing already existing infrastructure has been reinforced by the following facts:
Gandhi Memorial Museum , West Champran
There is a local nostalgia and emotional attachment to the social uplift started by Gandhi, and a general feeling of sadness that the property is largely misused and in a dilapidated condition. In preliminary discussions with the community leaders and Panchayat leaders held in January 2010, a consensus was reached that the new college would revitalise the local communities in the frame of a practical Gandhian development model and that its presence would motivate people's involvement by seeing the initiative as a tribute to the Mahatma.
Gandhi Research Center ( unfinished )
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Map or outline of campus for College
During his visit to India in February 2010 Dr. Marek Wosinski together with Birendra Kumar, project coordinator, visited the complex and met with Chauan family to discuss plans for turning the neglected complex into a college for social workers. The family appeared to be enthusiastic about the project, as it would impart a tribute to their grandfather who always dreamed of turning the place into a living memory of Gandhi. They were also aware of the fact that the college would contribute to the development of the area by creating new jobs, offering educational opportunities to local youth and create a sustainable community in their Panchayat through the active efforts made by the attending college students.
Meeting with the Mr.Arvind Chauan's family
A working plan for the development of the college was created as an immediate result of this visit. After extended discussion with Prof. Gracious Thomas, the Dean of the School for Social Work at Indira Gandhi National Open University, plans were made for affiliating the college with IGNOU by instituting as part of the college an IGNOU Learning Centre. Our vision is to have the first students there at the beginning of 2011.
Please CLICK HERE to see the slide show with the pictures of the site.
|Organization of Curriculum|
The RDC will begin with a group of 40 undergraduate and 10 graduate students. The program will be fully residential, meaning all students will live on the campus. Upon enrollment, the undergraduate students will be assigned groups of five with one supervisor from the PHD component and a faculty member as guide. A group will be assigned to a Panchayat (5,000 voters, average 2,000 family houses, 10,000 children). The group will work in the assigned area on the sustainable development model with indicators such as health, education, livelihood, environment, gender issues, etc.
In the selection process, preference will be given to those students who themselves come from 'backward' or 'underdeveloped' areas. Those with a definite motivation and commitment to the cause of developing rural areas will also be considered.
The base premise of the curriculum development for Rainbow Dream College is that the university should play a visible role in the development of the surrounding areas. This is to be achieved through the continued engagement of students with the community at the village and Panchayat level. In order to successfully implement the aims and objectives of this intervention, the Dream Rainbow concept includes a scope for practical training through the building of on campus sustainable models for replication in the field.
The proposed system incorporates far greater opportunities for hands on experience, with student involvement in grassroots activity as an integral course component. The grading system will lay greater stress on practical aspects of theory in the various disciplines. Rather than having a limited 20-hour, twenty week semester-type exposure, the proposed program of training visualises an ongoing hands-on practice for the entire five year duration, with ample scope for experimentation and assessment of outcomes.
The degree will be awarded on the basis of ongoing development of work carried out by the students in the field. The central idea is to facilitate effective and judicious utilization of government funding and schemes by the various rural self-government bodies for the benefit the local populace. Students will work as facilitators, empowering the local community towards greater ownership and contribution to sustainable development. The Bachelors' Degree will be granted after a five year course.
It is proposed that the Rainbow Dream College will have several organizational units, each of them serving both the students and the local community. Students will be assigned to the various components as part of their group exposure training programme and will engage with the local community according to the demands of the syllabus.
At this point we envision the following units [a] Community College [b] Health centre [c] Communication Centre [d] Community bank [e] Community School [e] Grain Bank [f] Knowledge Centre
A village boy awaiting in front of the Gandhi Research Institute building for his educational opportunity.
Numerous meetings with local communities are taking place in the neighbourhood of future Gandhi College of Social Work. PleaseCLICK HERE to read reports written by UDDYAN ROY
Birendra Kumar reports that the following organizations declared collaboration on the Gandhi College for Social Work project:
Vishwa Manav Seva Aashram will collaborate on the development of community school model and looms with charkha ( spinning wheel ) for poor women allowing them to generate livelihood.
All India Regional Rural Bank Employee Association will assist in creating for Self Help Groups and networking with NABARD AND CAPART
Solar India Online will provide solar energy related assistance and project management including training and collaboration for solar mission implementation at village level.
Cooperative Pacs will working with farmers/village to provide and promote cooperative banking , marketing and industries.
In addition the Ann Foundation fro New York expressed interest in helping with developing a of a Center for Disable children.
Read about UCP-SARnet supported Video Festival Abhiyaktiv 2010 in Patna, India.
Read reports about the third day of the festival.
On behalf of the local community and our network I would like to express our gratitude for supporting our efforts.
To better understand the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi please view the video about his life, mission and impact on the world:
We invite students, faculty members and community organizations worldwide to support this attemt to implement Gandhi's ideas. We need volunteers, experts on curriculum development, teachers and of course - financial support.
If you are interested in becoming a part of this project please contact