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A one year Diploma course titled “Participatory Rural Development” is being organised by Manavodaya to develop practical understanding, knowledge and skills among youth to work as development professionals for facilitating social and economic transformation in the lives of people living in rural areas. 

Some important features of the course are given below :

1.  Teaching Language : The course is run in Hindi as most students from rural areas know little or no English. Development of teaching material in Hindi has been a challenging task as it means getting the latest information from the net, translating it into Hindi and then converting the information into Power point presentations wherever possible.

2. Method of Teaching : The course uses a method of teaching that makes the student understand the subject well.  For this we to cut down on conventional teaching methods where students take notes for exam purposes only. Instead interactive methods based on real life examples are used throughout the course. Accordingly only those with practical experience are chosen to take classes.

3. Assessment : As the course is affiliated to a formal university i.e. the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, a deemed university under the UGC Act, we follow the university norms. Accordingly the assessment methods are spread to written assignments, tests, exams and report of practical work.

4. Field visits : Field  visits are arranged to institutions whenever possible. For example through visits to Dairy Cooperative, Producer organisations, self help groups, Central Institute of Subtropical Horticulture, fields of organic farmers, village visits for conducting PRA exercises.

5.  Hands on Experience : Support in the form of materials is provided to students for hands on experience e.g. in making of different types of bio enhancers and their application in the field, making Panchgavya products in an entrepreneurship development camp. These are all useful in developing  practical knowledge of the students.

6. Oral Communication : One of the most challenging tasks  is to enable the students to speak on a subject with confidence. For doing so mock presentations are held in class, special orientation is given on how to face interviews and speak with confidence on a particular subject. These have helped in removing fears associated with speaking/sharing thoughts.

7. Reflection on values : A continuing challenge has been to enable students to examine their goals and values in relation to working for social change as a career. A reflection session is devoted for the purpose almost daily in the morning. Learning and practising Yoga is also an integral part of the process.

8. Computing Skills : Many students have little or no exposure to computing skills. Having a computer lab at Manavodaya has helped the students to get acquainted with computers and write reports using computer. It takes  a special effort to guide students who have never held a mouse before.

9. Participation in Seminars : Students are  encouraged to participate in professional seminars whenever possible. The last batch participated in two seminars at the Lucknow University.

10. International Exposure : The Diploma students have the benefit of interacting with international students during the month long international course on the same subject held in March.  This has been very useful for both sides. A few sessions are designed for joint interaction among the students with translation arrangement.

11. Extra curricular Activities : These are arranged on a regular basis to bring out the hidden talent, build confidence and sportsmanship among the students. Sports and recreational facilities are available on Manavodaya campus. The students organised Table tennis, Chess and Badminton tournaments this year.

12. Library : Manavodaya campus  has an excellent library for the probing mind. The library is used by students to search for material for the written assignments. Almost all subjects have written assignments  with grades.

13. Field Practicum : The field work experience is enhanced by writing of diaries

concerning all aspects of the work. Some aspects of the practical exercises include

deep dialogue with villagers, Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) exercises,

formation of genuine self help groups after going through the social mobilisation

process, identification and training of local facilitators.

All students have to necessarily stay in the chosen village during the field practical.

This has produced touching descriptions of experiences gathered in dealing with

the difficulties and the benefits derived from the same.

An excellent record of the field practical has been prepared by every student  in the

form of a detailed report giving the background of the area, various data collection

exercises  with photographs, diagrams and experience with group formation efforts.


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