The Community Engagement Initiative is a continuous engagement with the local and surrounding communities towards improving human conditions and sustainability around our campus with a deep commitment to nurture public institutions and services.
- To use the knowledge and expertise of the University, Field institutes of Azim Premji Foundation, and the Philanthropy arm of the Foundation to contribute to improving human conditions and sustainability in the villages around the campus.
- To provide opportunities for students, the University and the rest of the foundation members to contribute and learn from the community engagements.
- To build a harmonious relationship between the University and the villages around the campus.
The University is located in the Burugunte village of Billapura Panchayat, Anekal taluk, Bengaluru. Currently, we engage with 7 Gram Panchayats around campus: Billapura, Handenahalli, Sarjapura, Mugaluru, Yamare, Dommasandra, and Bidraguppe.
These Gram Panchayats consist of 40 villages and 23 wards, with a population of 1.50 lakh, constituting a substantial portion of migrant labourers, farming communities, and petty businesses that are dependent on surrounding industries and residential apartments.
There are 2 Primary Health Centres (PHCs) and 8 Health sub-centres in the neighbourhood of the campus.
Further, 46 government schools, 5 panchayat libraries, and 2 veterinary hospitals are also present in this geography.
Furthermore, there are around 50 lakes in these Gram Panchayats ranging from 10 acres to 200 acres in size.
Strengthening Local Democracy
Effective elected local bodies can significantly improve development outcomes, improve service delivery and reflect the hopes and aspirations of common citizens. The CEI is constantly engaged with the panchayat bodies to empower them about their roles and responsibilities, support them in managing different sub-committees, managing their local resources and imagining their own development path.
Foundation for Ecological Security (FES) is our partner in this journey. We are also planning regular workshops and training programmes specifically for the elected women representatives.
Strengthening Public Schools
With an overarching vision of empowering panchayats and community members to own their public institutions, we have teamed with our Bengaluru Field team to build another layer of engagement with the 46 schools.
The CEI has collaborated with CARE India, an NGO, to set up 5 innovators’ laboratories in government schools to support 500+ children in the age group of 11 – 14 years to build their higher-order skills like research skills, problem-solving skills, computational thinking skills, and digital literacy through community-based youth educators. This project involves our own members as well as student volunteers.
Community libraries (Panchayat and school libraries)
The CEI has started some preliminary work with the neighbouring panchayat libraries as part of its overall engagement to activate these spaces for local children and youths.
The plan is to consolidate this work by working with community volunteers at the panchayat level: panchayat libraries (children’s section/corner); government schools (primary school children’s libraries), anganwadis and preschools (preschool children’s libraries).
Community Learning Centre (CLC)
Our student volunteers have been surveying the support staff at the University (security guards, gardening staff, and housekeeping) and also, marginalised and migrant communities nearby to get a sense of educational support needed by their children.
A group of children has been formed that comes to campus every Sunday. This will continue during the semester break time with more regularity.
Similarly, student volunteers are engaged continuously with the children living in a nearby children’s home (Yarab Education Trust) and offer them teaching-learning support.
Community Youth Engagement
The CEI’s vision is to create community leaders who can take up development work in their own areas, build greater awareness and sensitivity towards society, and be confident learners as well as an inspiration for others.
With the help of our University Resource Centre and English Language Support Centre, we are providing regular workshops on campus to selected youth from the community in soft skills and English proficiency, to strengthen their foundation for future jobs and build a continuous process of engagement with them.
We are also engaging the youth at the University Library in reading and participating in a few in-house seminars for knowledge building.
The plan is to offer regular workshops and certificate programmes for the local youths so that they can be development leaders in their areas.
Engagement with Local Farmers
We have initiated a long-term agriculture intervention plan in this neighbourhood: to help interested families continue in more meaningful, sustained, ecologically sensitive and gainful farming activities and also to build platforms for producers and consumers to come together, interact and understand each other. Currently, we are in touch with 25 farmers and our own University community.
Mapping, Documentation and Dissemination
The CEI is extensively carrying out the mapping of social, cultural, and ecological resources in the community. This involves the identification of various occupational groups, livelihood practices, religious spaces and groups, mapping all the common pool and natural resources in the seven Gram panchayats.
University members and students are working on a project to document all the nearby lakes and 125 ashwath kattes (informal public spaces around the Peepal tree) in the seven panchayats.
There is a plan for the Community Radio team at the University to disseminate best practices in the community — stories from our neighbourhood, stories of key individuals like panchayat leaders, community leaders, teachers, farmers, and weavers.
Social Security and Entitlement Drives
We work closely with the marginalised communities in and around the University. With the aim to build a safety net for informal workers on campus and vulnerable communities in the neighbourhood, we are trying to create an enabling environment by providing awareness about various government programmes and schemes.
CEI has organised several outreach drives in the villages around the University. Further, we have facilitated drives to enrol 660 community members for schemes such as e‑Shram, Ayushman Bharat Health Account (ABHA) and Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Yojana. CEI has also enrolled 70 support staff of the University in ESI, Pradhan Manti Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY), and Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMBSY).
Empowering Local Women
With the aim to support local women, CEI envisions strengthening the existing Self-Help Groups (SHGs) in the neighbourhood to provide them with the capacity for collective mobilisation as well as enhancement of their income through skill building.
CEI organised a day-long meet with 45 SHG leaders and NRLM District official to understand the scope of work and challenges, at the University in the month of November 2022.
On 6th July 2023, Foundation for Ecological Security http://fes.org.in/ , in collaboration with Community Engagement Initiative of the University trained 30 community women leaders of Billapura Gram Panchayat on Gram Sabhas and Ward Sabhas and the importance of their participation.This training aims to increase the participation of people in the Gram Sabhas to enable the efficiency of the GPDP process. The training saw an outstanding participation of the leaders during the discussions.
Proceed to this link to hear a participant speaking about her experience.
Since 2020, after the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown, we were actively engaged in on-ground support for the marginalised communities. In that process, we began to engage closely with the two Primary Health Centres (PHCs) as well.
This is an extension of Azim Premji Foundation’s comprehensive healthcare response work in Bengaluru, to support all the Panchayats and PHCs to handle the COVID-19 crisis by carrying out more testing and awareness, proper data entry, vaccination awareness, and provision of safety materials for all frontline workers, including ASHA workers and anganwadi teachers.
We also conducted vaccination drives in select locations in collaboration with Narayana Hrudayalaya and ACT Sattva (3,600+ dosages given).
Ever since the beginning of CEI in 2020, there has been a conscious effort to fruitfully engage with the community. Some of the highlights include collaborating with CARE India for setting up of laboratories in government schools, teaming with the University library team to capacitate panchayat librarians for effective functioning of library efforts, providing English Language Support with the help of University Resource Centre, exposure visit of representatives from all the seven panchayats to Sidlaghatta in Chikkaballapur District among many others.
We encourage more University members to volunteer in community projects.
To know more about our community engagement, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Stories from the neighbourhood
Seeding our children’s dreams: One man’s journey from being a tree cutter to a tree saviour
As the city gradually expanded toward Sarjapura, the road claimed the land that was once home to trees that were as old as 500 years. Devraj shares his story of transformation with Dechamma C S, Amanda Gann, and Puja Navin Solanki.