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Volunteering and Education.
|by Ananya S Guha|
Volunteering can be ' defined ' in many ways as far as theoretical jargon goes, or if we have to go by abstruse word play. To me, it is simple. Any gesture of rendering positive and genuine help, without any profit motive, and with a degree of altruism is volunteering.
A person volunteers to donate blood, to an ailing person, who he knows or does not know is rendering service not only to that person, but to the person's family and by larger implications, to society. Volunteering is prompted by the inner being to help, devoid of recognition, and guided by a disinterested pursuit of recognition, honour or fame. It can be both organized or unorganized.
A person could volunteer as part of an organization or club, or purely at the individual level. Education, is something which should be engendered by the spirit of volunteering, reaching out to poorer students, weak students, the differently abled, students with personal and familial problems, students who are economically and geographically marginalized etc. In fact like the medical profession, education is the spirit of volunteerism, where the self is selfless. This becomes especially true if we are educators for drop outs, economically weak students, students without much formal education, 'failed' students, street children, domestic workers, people engaged in technical skills in the unorganized sector to eke out a living etc.
With the kind of emphasis given on vocational education, which strips education of all bias, subverts the degree mania, makes it more egalitarian, and above all takes it to the masses; the spirit of volunteering should not only be evident, but should be consciously infused in this type of para education, literacy and linking skills to work. This emphasis on vocational education and skills by the Government of India, is very good augury, because it links skills and vocation, directly with work, and earning; it also demolishes the myth of acquiring degrees by any means, only to discover woefully, the mismatch of education, and requirements of industry.
If one volunteers for promoting education, and helping disadvantaged people to be equipped with knowledge which is practical and hands on, then we are training people to be self reliant, so that even if direct employment is elusive, self employment is a very viable recourse. For this, the educator or the volunteer has to think about, and be sensitive to different levels of target groups existing at the same time from street children to the professional wanting further up gradation.
Volunteering is 'motivated' by the spirit of selfless help, and so is education, if we have to stem the rot of massive unemployment, disability, non inclusive education, illiteracy, and rampant drop outs who pose a threat to the fabric and well being of societies. The true educator is a person with missionary zeal, where the profession as such takes a back seat, and the zeal to help gains primacy, undiluted by and going beyond, temptations of coffers or recognition.
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