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The two year program

Rusty Brick Wall

The world is our classroom! Swaraj University engages with learners to ‘self-design’ their learning processes. Rather than being dependant on external sources and frameworks for one’s education, we believe in enabling the learners to take responsibility for their own education and design their own learning program. A learner at Swaraj is called ‘khoji’ or ‘seeker’.

In a self-design learning approach, each  khoji  is encouraged to design their own learning plan… 

  • Explore their learning styles, questions and passions without the institutional constraints that smother interest and joy, and breed mediocrity;

  • Engage consciously with unlearning, jugaad (playful improvisation), deep dialogue and gift culture;

  • Design individualised learning webs that are based on authentic real world trans-disciplinary projects and inter-generational relationships;

  • Build feedback frameworks and mechanisms to reflect on their learning;

  • Use the close, supportive learner community as a base from which to engage with local, regional and global communities.


Their learning plans revolve around one core feature of this program - deep and intimate mentorships. Swaraj University aims to revive the traditional approach to education in India called the guru-shishya parampara. That is, learners being mutually placed one-on-one with mentors who share both a range of practical skills as well as personal philosophies/wisdom. These mentors have been carefully selected to ensure that, in addition to being cutting edge leaders in their respective fields, they are able to engage with youth in a true spirit of co-learning and friendship.

This is complemented by...

  • Khoji meets: The khojis converge every few months to cross-fertilise their learning and build perspectives on the core principles of Swaraj at our campus 30 kilometres away from Udaipur city. (To know more see Campus)

  • Individualised self-study program: After getting initial exposure to several practice areas, khojis chart and pursue their own path of study based on their interests. They are guided in developing their self-study program using various books, websites, films, etc. Significant attention is given to processes of self-awareness, self-understanding, and examining their life choices.

  • Skill workshops: Khojis have the choice to participate in workshops featuring basic entrepreneurial skills as well as other skills such as: communication, facilitation and group dialogue, computers, financing, marketing, cooking, sewing, farming, yoga, film-making, web design and blogging, desktop publishing, writing of proposals and business plans, documentation, working English, etc.

  • Service projects: Khojis design individual and group projects in collaboration with local communities and social movements.

  • Organisational internships: Khojis can do internships with leading social organisations and social movements spread all over India. This experience gives them the opportunity to know the expectations of the real work-world.

  • International dialogues: They interact with and spend time with visiting students from other countries. In addition, they are able to engage in virtual interactions with partner programs from around the world.

  • Learning journeys: Khoji cohorts travel together to engage with the cultural diversity of India and visit inspiring people and places such as Auroville, Ladakh, and POSCO andolan.


Each khoji builds their own portfolio over the course of 2 years, comprised of recommendations, self-reflections, published work, photographs, etc. 

 
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2 Year Flow

Year 1

The aim of the first year is to unlearn the dependence on external sources of knowledge and to engage in co-creating their self-directed learning path. Khojis also learn basic jugaad (playful improvisation), planning, facilitation, media and communication skills, as well as identify a practice area to pursue in more depth. There are various explorations and experiments to understand the meaning of Swaraj, and the core principles related to it, which are sustainability, social justice and holistic living. Khojis are exposed to different kinds of community contexts – rural villages, social movements, entrepreneurs and non-profit organisations.

The first year is divided into Khoji meets and mentorship periods. The duration of the Khoji meets is around 3-5 weeks in the first year. Between the meets is the mentorship or ‘guru’ period of 2-3 months each. The khojis learn with their chosen ustaads during the mentorship period and return to the campus for the Khoji meets, where they cross-fertilize their learning with other khojis. Khoji meets are also spaces for reflection, deepening our emotional understanding and healing ourselves from the hurt and stress caused by the System. 

During the first year, khojis also go on Learning Journeys to various parts of India and get exposed to new livelihoods, initiatives and organisations which are engaged in new ways of learning and living. One Learning Journey is on cycles, without money, technology or first aid, with the aim of going to the heart of India – its villages – and learning from nature and those living in harmony with it.

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  • Here is the proposed time-table for the 1st year:

  • Gathering 1: Preparation for Self-Design Learning Programme@ Udaipur (6 weeks)

  • Learning Journey 1: Whole group goes to one city or area to meet various inspiring activists, artists, social entrepreneurs, and change agents (2 weeks)

  • Mentorship 1: Individually or in pairs (2 months)

  • Gathering 2: Re-thinking development, co-learning and community living with peers and through workshops @ Udaipur (6 weeks)

  • Learning Journey 2: Cycle Yatra to villages (10 days)

  • Mentorship 2: Individually (2 months)

  • Gathering 3: Co-learning and community living with peers and through workshops @ Udaipur (4 weeks)

  • Learning Journey 3: Whole group goes to either South India or North-East India to meet various inspiring activists, artists, social entrepreneurs, and change agents (3 weeks)

 

  • Mentorship 3: Individually (2.5 months) 

  • Gathering 4: Khoji Milan and Graduation (of previous batch) (2 weeks): A lively gathering of all the batches of Swaraj University @ Udaipur. Reflecting on the year; naming practice areas for long-term study; brainstorming and networking for starting one’s own social/green enterprise.

Year 2

The focus of the second year is to move into deeper learning around the khoji’s emerging vision for community action. Khojis begin to gain leadership, management, resource mobilization, marketing and networking skills in engaging others to support their vision. They learn about the basics of swaraj entrepreneurship, starting a green business or a social initiative, fund-raising, basic accounting and budgeting, etc. 

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Here is the proposed time-table for the 2nd year: 

 

Gathering 5: Co-learning with peers through workshop on Swaraj Entrepreneurship @ Udaipur (10 days)

 

Project Work 1: Making our dreams into reality: working on dream projects of choice (1.5 months)

 

Gathering 6: Co-learning with peers through workshop on Entrepreneurship @ Nashik (10 days)

 

Community Learning Journey 1 (optional): Organized by the khojis in their communities (5 days)

 

Project Work 2: Making our dreams into reality: working on dream projects of choice (1.5 months)

Gathering 7: Co-learning with peers and through workshop on Entrepreneurship @ Udaipur (10 days)


Community Learning Journey 2 (optional): Organized by the khojis in their own communities (5 days)


Project Work 3: Making our dreams into reality: working on dream projects of choice (1.5 months)

Gathering 8: Co-learning with peers and through workshop on Swaraj Entrepreneurship @ khoji community (10 days)


Community Oasis Game 1 (optional): Open to both batches (6 days)


Project Work 4: Making our dreams into reality: working on dream projects of choice (1.5 months)

Gathering 9: Co-learning with peers and through workshop on Swaraj Entrepreneurship @ khoji community (10 days)


Community Learning Journey 3 (optional): Organized by the khojis in their own communities (5 days)        
Project Work 5: Making our dreams into reality: working on dream projects of choice (1.5 months)

Gathering 10: Khoji Milan and Graduation (2 weeks): Gathering of all the batches of Swaraj University @ Udaipur. Review of 2 year journey and sharing of future plans including business development plans and project proposals.

 

Khoji Support Structure

Our research and experience indicates that a strong support structure is essential for self-designed learning to unfold.  In this programme, each learner gets the opportunity to co-create their own personalised support network. We envision several key dimensions:

  • The Khoji Community: This dynamic peer cohort consists of 40 learners organised into smaller groups, providing a rich cross-fertilisation of knowledge and experiences as well as emotional support.

  • The Ustaads: A group of knowledge leaders from all over India with whom the learners are placed for 2 month periods. In addition to hosting and guiding the learner, the mentors share their life-work and technical skills, and commit to learning projects co-created with the learners.

  • The Mitras: In the true spirit of friendship, these individuals will provide an emotional anchor to the learners by creating opportunities for the learner to discuss their hurdles in their learning journeys. Mitras will also be a liaison between mentors and learners.

  • Personal Feedback Council: Each learner forms a feedback council consisting of at least 5 individuals. On a periodical basis the learner  shares/presents his work to his/her feedback council who in turn helps the learner connect with relevant resources and gives critical feedback on his/her work.

  • The Guides: Their main job is to facilitate learning plans of individual learners by conducting and organizing workshops, supporting individual learning styles, helping learners explore different fields of knowledge, co-ordinating with mentors/organizations and helping learners to start their own social enterprises.

  • International Advisory Group: This is a group of cutting edge thinkers from around the world to provide advice and connections for Swaraj University.