I recently had the opportunity to conduct a hands-on workshop on entrepreneurship, creativity and communication for three government colleges in Aizawl, the capital of Mizoram, with two of my colleagues.
We went to Aizawl with limited knowledge of what to expect. Six days of interacting with a bunch of college students primarily with a social science background was something that we were looking forward to.
I did some research on what the government had to offer with reference to skill development and entrepreneurship for students. The Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) states that 10 million youth will benefit from this scheme by 2020. The government website states that this scheme will be initiated by the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC).
The primary objective of the workshop was to help students to think out of the box. This was done by encouraging them to think of a community problem that bothers them and find a solution. This clearly helped them relate to the schemes provided by the government, which supports entrepreneurship by enhancing knowledge using the latest technologies.
This also helped students to try and think of innovative ways of solving problems. For example, a group of students came up with a concept of increasing tourism in Aizawl, since there is a huge scope but the city lacks the wherewithal.
Since the government already has a clause that states the scheme will provide a platform to facilitate training for special projects, it was imperative to encourage the students to clearly communicate their needs. The session on communication discussed body language, importance on carrying appropriate communication materials while going for a meeting, and audience mapping, to name a few.
The training was an eye-opener, in terms of the lack of awareness of students to use technology for skill development and entrepreneurship.
The hands-on workshop involved a lot of activities to apply the knowledge imparted. For example, when the concept on ideation was explained and students were asked to come up with problems encountered in their daily life, they shared “problems” which was for us something that was solved, sorted and addressed. As a result of this, we had to customise some of the concepts to suit the needs of these students so that we could achieve the desired results. While there are the schemes/opportunities available there are some challenges faced by the modus operandi of imparting education.
While English is the official language all subjects (in college) are taught through the vernacular language. As a result, there is no practice and hence no scope to improve communication in the English language.
Because of lack of practice in using the English language, the students were unable to respond to questions despite having knowledge. They ended up being passive learners with no scope for interaction. An innovative way of handling this subject will perhaps improve the quality of education. For example, apart from following a text book method, role-plays, activities to understand and apply the learnings may perhaps provide confidence to the students.
Having a close-knit socio-cultural background sometimes hampers the growth of a society. There are strong organisations like the Young Mizo Association (YMA), Kristian Thalai Pawl (KTP) and Thalai Kristian Pawl (TKP) but they bond the Mizo society and hence exposure to several opportunities are ignored
Looking at the brighter side, several technical and vocational courses have been initiated. Students now stand a chance to opt for courses like pharmacy and nursing, technology, engineering, veterinary, business management, to name a few.
The city is clean following some of the best practices. The traffic is heavy but people have great respect for fellow commuters. Despite narrow lanes jammed with traffic, one does not hear the blaring of car horns/scooter honks from impatient drivers/riders. The several road curves also reduce the speed of the traffic and people follow rules.
Rain water harvesting is practised due to scarcity of water. Dustbins are provided at all junctions hence there is no littering of garbage.
The sun rises at around 5 a.m. and sets around 5.30 p.m. Hence life starts early and all shops close at 5.30 p.m. since it becomes dark.
There are no beggars or scavengers on the road. Almost every shop is run by women and they do it with great efficiency.
Sundays are spent in church, since Mizoram has a high population of Christians.
(Annapoorna Ravichander is an independent writer. The views expressed are personal. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)