Introduction Given the complexities and the social pressures that the students at various stages, it is vital that they are guided properly during the final year of their degree course. Forging links with the industry and the trading communities can through up a number of intelligent and innovative methods of some sort of reorganization of the personality profiles of all final year students.
The scope becomes really very wide if creativity is followed by some innovation in the process. For example, it is quite normal to see a massive number of rural students from farmer families who are already engaged in some sort of farming in their own lands at least on the weekends. This can be widened to include a slightly bigger number of students, say, two groups of five students who can be totally involved in experimenting with some new breakthrough knowledge or skill in organic farming. If the experiences are documented and a video is made of the actual experiences of students, this will go a long way in making the wider groups of students learn about organic farming in detail; more so, since the experience involves students of the same college.
Given the scope of such activities it becomes imperative to a) Take internship programs to a new level b) Forge value-added relationships c) Enable students to educate adults on events in the external world d) Enable increased communication through social media and e) Enlist the support of the wider society as stake-holders.
Take internship programs to a new levelAt the moment, the internships for the final year graduates in reputed organizations, is either zero or in a pathetic state of affairs. This is exactly where the UGC should chip in and bring out reforms.
The most important reform is to make it mandatory for the final year students to be employed as interns in some good industrial or service organization. The basic aim of such an internship program should be to facilitate learning to a much larger degree and also enable the industrial organization to gain value through the association. For example, an organization like Unilever (India), or Jyothi Laboratories, Mumbai, each of which manufacture and sell a big range of consumer products that reach India's kitchens and bathrooms or toilets, can use the students of say, Indo-American College Tiruvannamalai, in the Tiruvannamalai District of Tamil Nadu, to get to know the scope of a new product that is in the pipeline, through extensive market research in the rural and semi-urban areas of the Tiruvannamalai District. Similarly, the students of a college at Vijayawada, for example, can submit a project report on pragmatic steps to promote tourism in the area. The final year economics and commerce students can be used for such work.
Similarly, the students of the B.Sc (Chemistry) course, can be made to undergo internships in a small-scale industry manufacturing household chemicals. They can even use their knowledge and that of their professors, to come up with a new product and suggest that to the Management. In fact, in every internship, the teachers should also be part and parcel of the learning process and they should partner with the business or industrial organization in one way or the other.
The final year students of the Sociology course, for example, can stay in some decent place near the Tribal areas and visit the homes of the tribal people and even take part in their cultural activities. This will enable such students to understand the nuances of cultures and what it means to be a tribal in that area. Or, they could interact with tourists who flock to the different temples to understand the deeper meanings of their faith in God and the way they perceive spirituality.
Enable students to educate adults on events in the external world The number of holidays for the students is much more than what is applicable to post offices and the banks. There are still millions of ordinary rural people, who do not even have an Aadhar card or understand the need for the same. They should be taught to be the basics of the same and should also have the card.
Similarly, the rural folk also need to have their savings accounts in banks and they should also know about pre-mature closure and so on. Similarly, the local adults can also be told about the services available in the computerized format in the various Government offices and the nuances of getting things done in the modern days. A lot more information needs to be given to them on the various Government facilities in terms of scholarships and so on.
All these things can be done systematically, by the final year students, and it is for the teachers to show them the way. Once they understand the importance of doing some sort of work, they will start appreciating the need to do far better work, in the later stages of their lives as well.
Enable increased communication through social media There are local TV channels in every part of India. These are more or less social media vehicles and they can be put to very effective use, by harnessing the power of the final year students. For example, if the final year students can go around the local area and identify dangerous spots that can cause accidents, in terms of roads being extensively damaged, or a manhole is not placed properly and so on, they can immediately alert the authorities and bring about the required change.
The role of the teachers is very much vital here. They just cannot afford to keep quiet and watch so many things happen around them. They need to be a lot more creative in making society understand what it takes to get things done differently and the various ways in which the final year students can chip in.
Enlist the support of the wider society as stakeholders This is very important too. For example, the rich traders and other rich people (including NRIs) and so on, who can play a very important role, need to be involved. They can in fact come up with nice ideas on how to harness the energy of students far better. The students can clean up parks, beaches, and so on. The students can go around and assist the Government authorities in the various health camps and not restrict themselves to the blood donation camps and so on.
The more work that society needs to get done, the better. For, the students normally come up with a number of creative ideas and keep on innovating in terms of the methods to get the creative ideas implemented. Getting the wider society to be involved as stakeholders is as important as the entire process itself and this important point needs to be noted.
Conclusion We need to understand the various ways and means of harnessing the power of students in general, and the final year students in particular. Apart from the engineering colleges, the arts and science colleges, which will be easily double the number of engineering colleges in any State, would be the ideal launching pad for more meaningful contributions from the final year students. Of course, while some suggestions and dimensions have been discussed above, there will obviously be a lot more that can be done in terms of innovation, when the process starts getting implemented in one form or the other.
The author has given some good measures and points for exposing the final year students of arts and humanities to the outside business world through internship programs so that they understand the work culture and other details in the industries around them. This will eventually help them to prepare for carving out a career in the tough and competitive environment outside.
Involving the students in practical projects outside schools and colleges are in the spirit of the National Service Scheme also. Even participating in serving the community and involving oneself in environmental and other conservation practices is sufficient to bring a lot of confidence and learning in the students. Each and every student has to participate actively in these projects whether these are for social upliftment or for learning the business techniques. Frankly speaking, it is not only the final year students who require this type of exposure but students at all the levels should be provided, in a continuous way, some exposure or some short time out of the academic year for these learnings so that when they come out of their institutions then they are ready to work in any situation or circumstances.