North-East’s first Master Trainer Program under Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0, hosted at Tezpur University

TEZPUR: A three-day UGC-sponsored program on master trainer training in community-based participatory research (CBPR) was held under the auspices of Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0 of the Union Ministry of Education at the North Eastern Regional Centre, Tezpur University, Assam. Thirty-six regional education and research professionals from various colleges and universities participated in the program. The participants were from Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura states. Tezpur University, one of the seven regional centers across India, ran the program as the host of the Northeast Zone.

The aim of the program was to introduce academics and research professionals to Community Based Participatory Research and train them to understand the processes and challenges in development and community-based communication. The Master Trainers will then transfer the acquired knowledge and expertise to the students according to the two credit course proposed by the UGC on community engagement for RUG and PG students which will be introduced in accordance with the goals of the National Education Policy 2020. During this program, the master trainers visited the nearby villages of the university, namely Harigaon, Jharoni and Napaam, for practical training on community-based participatory communication and research.

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dr. Rajesh Tandon, Founder President of the Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA) and Mr Pradyut Bhattacharjee, Co-Founder and former Executive Director of Seven Sisters Development Assistance (SeSTA) were the program contributors. The inaugural session of the program, which took place in mixed mode on July 26, was attended by Prof. Subramaniam Natarajan, Former Vice Chancellor GRI-DU and Member, Subject Expert Group of UGC (SEG-UGC), Prof. Dhruba Kumar Bhattacharya, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Tezpur University, Prof. Joya Chakroborty, Chief Coordinator, North East Regional Center (CBPR) and Head, Department of Mass Communication and Journalism, Tezpur University, along with the resource persons Dr. Rajesh Tandon and Mr Pradyut Bhattacharjee.

dr. Diksha Rajput, Assistant Secretary, UGC, Prof. KK Agarwal, Chairman, National Accreditation Council and UGC-SEG, Dr. Ujjvala Chakaradeo, Vice Chancellor, Shreemati Nathibai Damodar Thackersey Women’s University, Mumbai and UGC-SEG Member, Dr. Kamal Bijlani, Director of E-learning Research Lab, Amrita Vishwavidyapetham and Member, UGC-SEG, joined the session via online mode.

In his inaugural address, Prof. Dhruba Kumar Bhattacharyya, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Tezpur University on the importance of community engagement and how participatory research can contribute to social change. Prof. dr. Subramaniam Natarajan, Former Vice-Chancellor, The Gandhigram Rural Institute – Considered University (GRI-DU) and Member, UGC-SEG, in his keynote address presented the idea behind the program and also related it to the implementation of the program focusing on the role of institutional social responsibility and the role of the Ministry of Education and UGC in developing a curriculum framework for participatory research education that can promote experiential learning about community engagement for development

Prof. dr. Vinod Kumar Jain, Vice Chancellor of Tezpur University attended the farewell meeting of the program on July 28. In his short note, he shared the importance of community engagement and how it supports higher-level policy decisions. He also focused on the collective role of diverse communities and the role of higher institutions in contributing multidisciplinary knowledge for building a prosperous society.

Prof. dr. Joya Chakroborty shared her experiences hosting the event and interacting with the participants in her closing remarks. She also stressed the need and importance of expanding the program in Northeast India due to the cultural and social diversity of the region. The importance of networking and communication between other institutions for facilitating a process of co-learning and building a repository of knowledge was also emphasized in her note.

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