The Green College in Odisha is leading by example in the field of rural innovation and sustainable livelihoods.
Sumitra’s hands and feet move dexterously on the sewing machine, and she is equally at ease with the other machines in the room. Sumitra is one of the many students at Odisha’s Green College who learn not from books but from ideas and innovations. Green College is not the everyday college of lectures and libraries, it is a college working to enable its students, young and old, to create innovative and sustainable means of livelihood for themselves.
While Sumitra and her cohorts are learning to make and sell leaf-plates made of the locally-found siali leaves, Amita and her group are learning to cultivate different types of mushrooms, traditionally not seen as a cash crop in the region.
Sustainable living is at the core of the ethos that Green College seeks to promote. The students here are trained to manage and conserve natural resources and develop means of livelihood from them. For instance, after the paddy is harvested, most of the straw goes to waste. But at Green College, students make out of the straw and sell them. Such a set-up particularly helps women and adds economic value to the work they do, often dismissed as an extension of unpaid household work.
Green College offers two types of courses, short term courses that are taught over 15 days to a month and mid-term courses that go up to three months. After taking the courses, at least 80% students adopt the skills taught at the college and earn a living out of them.
“I love Green College because only 30% of the curriculum here is theoretical, the rest is all practical”, says Dasami, a student. She also believes that no other college has faculty as cooperative as Green College, emphasising on the importance of a collective learning environment.
Video by Community Correspondent Dasharathi Behera
Article by Alankrita Anand, a journalist in the VV editorial team