1. Title of the Practice: “Earn While You Learn”
Objective of the practice:
Earn While You Learn, is an initiative undertaken by the teachers of Sohra to facilitate the students to supplement their family income, while at the same time continuing their endeavour to learn. The objective of the practice is to encourage the students to come forth and learn while at the same time get an opportunity to earn. This will also boost the retention level of the students in the Higher educational institution such as Sohra Government College.
Sohra Government College is located far away from the nearest city, Shillong. The College cater to the educational needs of rural folks. Therefore, the means of sustenance of the students is mostly drawn from agricultural and its allied activities like horticulture, apiculture, handicraft, canecraft and basket weaving, husbandry etc. It needs to be stated that most of the students are basically only the first generation or at best the 2nd generation to have a chance to be educated. Therefore for them education, though important, is a luxury that very few people in any village can afford. Sustenance is still a priority in every family. So the priority of every household’s child is to supplement the family rather than go to school or college for education.
Therefore, it has been observed that oftentimes students are compelled to abstain from attending classes, especially during weekly market days, to help supplement the family income by carrying their products to the market to sell them. This, however, resulted in their missing out on the teachings for at least twice a week. The initiative therefore is to open a kiosk within the premise of the college and encourage the students to bring their product to the college whereby the staff members and students too can buy their produce.
The practice involves the provision of a kiosk, in the premise of the college, wherein the students can bring in their products in quantities that they can carry with them while coming to the college, for attending their classes. There is a locker provision for storing their products. There is also a board where students write down their phone number so that any teacher, staff, fellow student interested in buying the products can call the student-vendor, (the student in the mean time could be attending classes).
This practise is unique in the context of higher education in India, particularly the North East, as higher education among several families is at best a second generation luxury. Thus youths, especially rural youths, while enrolling themselves in higher educational institutions can at the same time assist their parents in agriculture and its allied activities. The student-vendor can serve a prior notice at a provided space to pre-announce the item available in the next few days or weeks, because, being a cultivating household, it is understood that the student will be able to predict the harvesting of whatever product his or her family is producing. Since this is the initiative of the teachers of the college, all teachers have already pledged to purchase the goods vended by the students.
Evidence of Success: The College teachers’ initiative has proven to be relative success in the absence of an alternative means to ensure the regular attendance of the students, while at same time, the initiative has ensured that students are retained at the college and thereby will stem the high dropout rate currently faced by the College. Since the idea has found acceptance in the College community (the vendors as well and the buyers) the college expects that this practice will further improve in the years to come.
Problems encountered and Resources required: The only limitation and constraint of the practise is that the student-vendor is not encouraged enough to bring a greater quantity for a bigger profit as the presence of the buyers of these products is confined to only within the premise of the college and no outsider is allowed access inside the campus. However, this issue can be sorted out by initiating a tie up with other government offices of the Sohra Civil Sub-division located close or adjacent to the College.
2. Title of the Practice: “Green and Clean: Beyond Campus”
Objectives of the practice: It is the responsibility of ever learned young man to contribute towards society. Achieving a green and clean environment is one of the goals of the Nation even the world as a whole. The objective of this initiative is to impress in the minds of the students and the community to value the significance of a green and clean surrounding, and also to cultivate in them the responsibility to act in achieving the mentioned objective.
The Context: The Sohra Plateau is renowned all over the world not just for its scenic beauty but most importantly as being the wettest place on planet earth. However, in spite of being the wettest place, Sohra also earned the distinction of being referred to the ‘wet desert’. Initiatives for afforestation of the Sohra Plateau taken up by State Government fell short of the desired result due to lack of community consciousness. Moreover, cleanliness can also be a USP to augment its tourism prospects. As an Institution that has a responsibility and the opportunity to mould the young minds of the future citizenry, we have an appropriate platform to bring about changes in perception and action of the community as a whole. The Institute is also fortunate to have students from the farming community whose connect to the environment is second nature, thus making this exercise and an effortless endeavour.
The Practice: Through various extension activities of the College like the NSS, NCC, Sohra Government College has over the years played an important role in creating awareness and sensitising people and community beyond its campus. This is achieved by organising activities like Cleaning drive, (Swachh Bharat Abhiyan), Tree Plantations, Poster campaign, Debates, Quiz, Painting & Drawing Competitions involving students from the College and other institutions of the area. Seminars on various issues relating to economic prospects of tourism were organised. The College also organises Lectures on the traditional methods of conservation of nature to reinforce among the student community the value and responsibility of holding on to the wisdom of the forefathers. It is the committed endeavour of the College through NSS to creating awareness in the form of Poster campaigns and various competitions like Debate, Quiz, essay writing, painting and Drawing Competitions. The College goes a step further to organise mass awareness through Cleaning Drive at Sohra Market which is the only main traditional market catering to all the villages of the Sohra Plateau. The College also organise mass cleaning drive and tree plantation at tourist spots like Noh Ka Likai Falls, Mawsmai Cave, Eco Park, Soso Tham Children’s Park which are the prominent tourist spot of the area. These plantation drives are followed up by a weeding and airing the roots to ensure that the saplings planted grow and survive. The college also has a scheme to encourage that each student should plant and maintain at least one tree during their time at the college.
In the adopted villages, the College through its NSS unit, involve the communities in preserving nature. In these village, the emphasis of the college programmes were the preservation of catchment areas to ensure the survival of water bodies. Such activities go a long way to impress on the minds of the students and community to value their surroundings and to act in order to achieve a green and clean environment even beyond the campus.
Evidence of Success: The success of this practice can be seen in the fact that the trees planted by the students have survived and continue to grow. Moreover, the various programmes, activities, competitions so conducted have achieved one thing – that is, the seed has been planted in the minds of the students and the community about their value of a green and clean environment and their responsibilities toward attaining a better surrounding.
Problems encountered and Resources required: From among many limitations that this practice encounters, the foremost impediment to all efforts at planting trees is to ensure their survival, especially in the villages. This is because most household practice husbandry and inevitably in absence of enough resources, the saplings planted are vulnerable to being destroyed by the livestock. For want of adequate resources, the saplings cannot be protected adequately nor the farmers be duly compensated to forego their livestock.