For educated youth to get meaningful employment, they need more than academic education, with self-confidence and personality development being crucial attributes. But many educated youngsters today lack these attributes. So making use of the opportunity provided by the RILM’s TEACH programme, and zeroing in on the training aspect of the programme, Rotary Club Puttur Central, a relatively new club in RID 3181, set up three years ago, has undertaken an ambitious training programme focused on personality development of pre-university students in mostly rural colleges at Puttur in Dakshin Karnataka.
Titled ‘Arivu’ (wisdom in Kannada), this project aims to give youngsters adequate training and life skills, along with self-confidence and good communication ability to enable them to get meaningful employment. Club president Navinchandra Naik explained that this is a long-term endeavour and the all-encompassing programme will tackle the repercussions of too much focus on academic studies, grades, hectic competition and rivalry, “all the variables that have accelerated the rat race in which today’s students find themselves trapped. The necessity of the hour is the general understanding of life skills that will equip our youngsters to gain both knowledge and wisdom.”
At the end of the day, the course will aim to make the youth it trains become responsible citizens. He defines “life skills as a positive attitude with democratic values, respect for the law of the land, and sensitivity to contribute their mite to the welfare of the community which has given them so much.” Add to this the value of ethics, a keen interest in safeguarding the environment of planet earth and self-confidence to stand up for one’s values and rights, and the students who complete this training course will have the right mindset to go in for higher education and skills for the vocation they choose, he added.
Giving the genesis of the project, its coordinator and charter secretary of the club Sanath Rai says that its roots lie in the students of Karnataka missing out two vital years of education during the corona pandemic. They all passed Class 8 and 9 and were promoted to Class 10, but their foundation was inadequate, as the classes were held only online and the vital teacher-student interaction was missing. “We all know that the education that children get in Class 8 and 9 is vital as they face the board exams the next year. So to help such students the Vidya Setu – Vidhyabhiyana programme was initiated by the Rotary clubs in Karnataka with the help of Digvijaya News and Vijayavani Kannada daily, sponsors through advertisements and generous Rotarians
across the state.”
In this project a set of two books in Kannada was distributed free of cost to the students of Class 10 studying in Kannada medium government schools. “These books contain simplified versions of the curriculum content of English, Maths and Science taught in Class 8 and 9. These books were approved by experienced teachers,” he adds. The books costing `250 were given to Rotary clubs at a subsidised cost of ₹100 and it is estimated that around five lakh such books have been distributed throughout Karnataka.
Along with other Rotary clubs in the state, when members of RC Puttur Central started distributing this set of guiding textbooks to schools in their area, “many parents and teachers told us that thanks to the pandemic and disruption in regular classes, their children lacked the required knowledge, discipline to study and also the ability to focus. They appealed to us that if you have or can devise any programme through which you can give some information, knowledge or guidance to these students about the kind of education they should pursue, it will be good for their future.”
Hence the club conceived the idea of Arivu, and identified distinguished members from their club who were skilled professionals in education, finance, pubic administration, law, and so on. The members include Rtns T Ramesh Babu (tahsildar), Chandrahasa Rai B (former registrar of Karnataka Tulu Sahitya Academy), Rajesh Bejjangala (research professor, Srinivasa University Mangalore), Ramachandra K (director of physical education and placement officer, Government First Grade College), Shivaram M S (associate professor, Vivekananda Engineering College), Chidananda Rai (lawyer), Rakkesh P Shetty (counsellor) and Bharathi S Rai (HoD of English, St Philomena College).
Under Arivu, a one-hour programme is conducted at government colleges in Puttur, where for 45 minutes training is given in various subjects and a 15-minute interactive session is held with the students.
In all, during the first phase of the project, around 4,700 students from about 17 colleges in Puttur will be covered. Till December-end, 28 sessions were held. On this year’s focus being on empowerment of girls, and asked about the participation of girls in this programme, Rai said, “In these 28 sessions, I am happy to say, over 50 per cent of the students were girls, as there are more girls than boys in rural colleges in Karnataka.”
He added that two topics on which the Arivu faculty is concentrating in the training sessions, which are bilingual, being conducted in both Kannada and English, are problems associated with adolescence and career opportunities available in the Indian defence services.
Depending on the success of this project, the TEACH team is also planning to extend this project to the students of degree colleges as well, said Bharathi S Rai, the club’s chairman of TEACH. The topics covered under Arivu, designed by the club’s trainers, include visualising success and setting goals, career orientation, adolescent problems, competitive exams, social responsibilities and career opportunities in the defence services.
When and as required, other topics can be added and “institutions are free to select the topics of their own interest,” said Naik.