The 5th GUNi World Report on Higher Education Launched in India
The report Higher Education in the World 5 “Knowledge, Engagement and Higher Education: Contributing to Social Change” was presented in New Delhi on the Seminar on “Community Engagement in Higher Education” and in the cities of Siliguri (West Bengal) and Chandigarah’ (Punjab) as part of the Global Education Dialogue Series.
On the 5th of March 2014, a seminar on “Community Engagement in Higher Education”, was held at the Planning Commission in New Delhi. The Seminar witnessed participation from the academia, government and NGOs. The event hosted by Sh Pawan Agarwal, Advisor (Education), included the participation of 11 universities across India, through video conferencing, who, apart from participating in the deliberations, also shared the their story of community engagement, which were being practiced in their respective universities.
Dr Rajesh Tandon, one of the GUNi Report Guest Editors, President of the Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA) and Co-Chair, UNESCO Chair in Community Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education, introduced the GUNi report and set the stage for the deliberations, by elaborating on the essence of the theme of community engagement.
The seminar was part of the Global Education Dialogue series, partnered by the UNESCO Chair in Community-based Reaserch and Social Responsibility in Higher Education and the British Council. Those series of dialogues also included Dialogues on Community Engagement and Social Responsibility in the North Bengal University, in Siliguri (West Bangala) on the 4th of March 2014, and in the Punjab University in Chandigarah’ (Punjab) on 6th of March. They were addressed to academics from those universities, with the aim to strengthen and support community engagement in higher education in the regions. The Global Education Dialogues were attended by delegates from India and UK.
In the Delhi seminar, speeches from Dr Michael Osborne (Chair & Professor, University of Glasgow, UK ), Dr Emma McKenna (Science Shop Co-ordinator, Queen’s University’ Belfast; & Workpackage Leader on the Public Engagement with Research and Research Engagement with Society (PERARES) project) and Dr Jennifer Chambers (Senior Policy Manager, Research Councils, UK) were also part of the seminar.
Following them, other participants also shared their points of view and experiences on the theme. Among them, Sh Amit Khare, Joint Secretary, MHRD, Dr Pankaj Mittal, VC, Bhagat Phool Singh Mahila Vishwavidyalaya, Mr Shigeruaoyagi, Director, UNESCO (Delhi office) and Prof Anand of Dayalbagh University.
Along with them, representatives from 10 universities, across the country and other organization such as PRADAAN, UNESCO and IRRAD also shared their experiences.
The deliberations and discussions finally culminated in the GUNI report being released by Sh. Ashok Thakur, Secretary (Higher Education, MHRD), that emphasized on the importance of integration of indigenous knowledge systems with the elitist knowledge residing in the universities, and applauded such efforts, which promoted this cause. Along with this, in order to promote socially relevant research, he said that the government has also made accreditation of colleges/universities mandatory, which would have community engagement as one of the defining criterions, for academic ranking. He also called for NGOs to work closely with universities, in taking forward this initiative, taking a cue from PRIA, which leads from the front.
Dr Tandon provided his concluding remarks to the seminar by saying that “My agenda is to mobilize my fraternity of NGOs, in this field of community engagement, along with ensuring the mutuality of the benefits of the work done, and its linkage with the core academic curriculum in the Universities”.
Around 100 people followed the Global Education dialogues hold in India this March.