Yesterday I got an opportunity to judge one of the regional rounds of SIFE event for the second time.
I just love the concept. They encourage students to work in the direction of social entreneurship and encourage them to come out with solutions that can help alleviate the disparity that we see in our community. The winning project gets sponsorship to take it even further. Last year the Indian team stood third internationally.
The method of judging the event is quite scientific where the judges are taken through a video of around 18 mins and are given clear instructions on the parameters that they need to clearly examine such as Sustainability, understanding of the market based economics principles etc.
In this contest we get to see 20-21 yr olds coming and explaining how they managed to check out say a school for the visually challenged in Latur and realized that the training that was provided by the government was disjointed from the market and also that the government didn't put in any effort in terms of connecting the potential of these individuals to the opportunities that the market offered to them.
Similarly another group of students who are undergoing their post graduation course, explored the possibility of reviving the art form of Warli painting which is getting stiff competition from the more refined products made from machines etc. These students even got these painters to come all the way from their tribal areas and showcase their art in important outlets.
I guess introducing students to social entrepreneurship at an early stage can really help them in developing their outlook towards the disparities in the society and may be enough to light a small flame which we never know may have the potential to come out with great solution which might just transform the world of the not so blessed in unknown ways.
For Education to have true relevance, it needs to be rooted in the social, political, economic context of the times. In a country such as ours with such phenomenal challenges in all three dimensions, we just can't afford to adopt a singular goal as otherwise, a lot would remain unanswered.