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University goes beyond campus to help youth

By C.M. Paul
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Guwahati, May. 30. A group of college students recently conducted a five-week computer education program for high school students of the locality.
The program consisted of enhancing the youths' capability in basic computing skills using computer programs such as word processing, spreadsheet calculation and tabulation, presentation, and internet browsing.
Fifteen students from four neighborhood high schools were awarded certificates of course completion, at a ceremony presided over by ADBU Vice Chancellor Dr Stephen Mavely on May 27.
The first Salesian university in the English-speaking world is taking its resources and talents beyond its boundaries to help the underprivileged youth in its neighborhood.

The Assam Don Bosco University wants to ''extend a helping hand to the community children around the University,'' says Professor Victor Nazary, who coordinates the Free Tuition program in the Social Work department.

The short-term ''Computer Education Programme'' for tenth grade students were hands-on training for developing their basic communication skills using computers.

''This program is part of the larger free and voluntary community engagement and service of Assam Don Bosco University, which have been started in order to address the need felt by students and faculty of the ADBU,'' said Nazary.

Thirteen volunteers comprising of ADBU faculty and students took part as trainers.

''The personalized training sessions have significantly boosted the morale and confidence of the participants as they prepare themselves for facing the larger challenges that await them in their college life,'' added Nazary.

Other dignitaries gracing the occasion included ADBU Pro-Vice Chancellor Fr Joseph Nellanattu, Director, School of Humanities and Social Sciences Dr Riju Sharma, faculty, student volunteers and the participants of the program.

The neighborhood students project ''Swastyayan'' presently focuses on conducting free daily evening tutorial classes for high school students in Mathematics, General Sciences, Social Sciences and English. Some 150 students from grades 8 to 10 attend the classes.

ADBU, based at Guwahati, Assam's commercial capital, is one of the 16 universities the Salesian of Don Bosco manage globally. The Salesians are the second-largest men's Catholic Congregation in the world after the Jesuits, and the largest if their nuns are included.

ADBU's off-campus or distance learning division, Don Bosco Global, is larger in student strength than its on-campus wing. Although ADBU is a private self-financing university, its challenges are much more than a typical such university, due to the unique geography in which it is situated - India's North East.

When the Salesians first landed in the region 92 years ago, the Seven Sisters (as northeastern India is known now) were not yet born. Everything was Assam.

The Salesians of North East have grown with the Seven Sisters as they emerged one by one - Manipur, Tripura, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram - and even when the eighth and youngest sister, Sikkim arrived.

Today, it is doubtful whether any other NGO or social organization knows more about the problems and potential of India's North East than the Salesians.
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