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The support network

Regular field visits and community development exercises keep DSW students in touch with critical social realities

education Updated: Feb 01, 2012 10:41 IST
Gauri Kohli

Way back in 2008, just when news from the remote corners of Bihar on the disastrous impact of the Kosi floods began to pour in, faculty members and students at the Department of Social Work (DSW), University of Delhi, swung into action. The teachers received calls from the affected areas requesting help with relief efforts. “The next day, we had a flurry of ideas for designing a possible intervention strategy and putting it in action,” says Manoj K Jha, associate professor at DSW.

A team of seven students with relief material comprising medicines, biscuits and clothes etc, got ready to reach out to the flood victims. “We had the basic understanding of the situation in Bihar and were also apprised of the rescue initiatives by the government. Following the information available from the state and district administration, one of our first visits was to Saharsa. The entire experience was nerve-wracking as the truck carrying the team from Patna had to literally sail (because of the water) through a 60-km stretch,” says Jha.

This project, called University for Development Action and Integrated Learning, completed 31 months of its operation and was one of the longest rehabilitation intervention initiatives by any university in the country so far.

Such opportunities, say DSW students, make them feel that they are responsible citizens and good human beings.

USP: “The opportunity for students to connect with the community through field visits and translating what we teach into practice are our strong points. We also endeavour to develop a creative instinct and initiative-driven approaches to problems among our students,” says Neera Agnimitra, associate professor.

The department has various centres/projects that enable students to work closely with the community and gain hands-on experience. One of them is the Centre for Community Development and Action, which runs various activities at Burari, focussing on non-formal education, health, teaching and vocational programmes for girls and a centre for the elderly. Another one is the Centre for Child and Adolescent Well-Being, which provides diagnostic treatment and referrals to children with behavioural and emotional problems.

Programmes: Master’s in social work; MPhil and PhD in social work

Faculty: There are about 14 faculty members

IT quotient: The Department has a well-stocked computer room, which has 24-hour Internet connectivity. There are computers with internet facility available in the library and in the hostel.

Infrastructure: The department offers a wide range of facilities to its students. It has air-conditioned classrooms, a students’ union room, a committee room and an auditorium. There are sports facilities as well for table tennis, cricket, badminton, and volleyball etc. A well-stocked library with Internet facility has over 30,000 volumes of national and international journals, books and reference material.

The college has hostel facilities for both boys and girls, including a common room with a TV, board games, newspapers and magazines. There’s a fully-functional canteen (for day scholars) and a mess (for the hostel residents).

There is also a well-structured system in place for field work opportunities by way of concurrent field work (every Tuesday and Thursday, throughout the four semesters). There’s a mandatory block placement to agencies such as World Vision India, Child Relief and You and Pratham Education Foundation after the second semester and a rural camp in the third semester.

Clubs and societies: Students can join the film club Pratibimb and theatre club Shirkat. The latter organises various events for students to showcase their talent. Several lectures, seminars, field visits and conferences are held to enable the students to interact with experts in the field of social work.

Student speak: “The two years in this college have been the most defining phase of my life. I have got opportunities which have resulted in tremendous professional and personal growth. The faculty members have been very supportive and have eased the learning process a lot. As I am at the threshold of graduating, all I take fond memories with me,” says Stuti Kohli of MA social work, fourth semester.

Factfile
The Department of Social Work, formerly known as the Delhi School of Social Work, was founded in 1946. It was the second school of social work to be established in the country by the YWCA

Wishlist
“There should be some flexibility in the programme ensuring better balance between theory and practice. Students should also be allowed to participate in the research and development process of the department,” Ronak Choudhary, a student of the fourth semester