Institution of Chairs:
The aim of the Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University is to become a Mass University and the University has a conscious realisation of her commitments to the community. The university endeavours to achieve this through its Student Welfare and Extramural Studies Centre. Among the various activities regularly conducted may be mentioned the ‘Lok Samwad Satra’ lectures on the occasion of the death anniversaries of Shri. Yashwantrao Chavan, Mahatma Phule, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar and Dr. Panjabrao Deshmukh - all devoted and dedicated visionaries who embarked upon the movement of social change and made indelible contributions for the upliftment of society. Through the organisation of public lectures by eminent thinkers, social reformers, activists and scholars on these days, the university achieves a dialogue with society and is able to reach out to the common man. The university has also instituted the following Chairs as a tribute to the very significant contributions of some illustrious persons:
Savitribai Phule Chair:
Mahatma Jyotiba Phule and his wife Savitribai Phule embarked upon the movement of Female Education and Social Reforms in Maharashtra in the18th century. Today too, an urgent need is felt to continue the process of emancipation of women and transformation of their lives. With this purpose, the Savitribai Phule Chair was instituted by the university. In order to monitor the functioning of the Chair, a State Level Steering Committee headed by Dr. Smt. Snehalata Deshmukh, former Vice-Chancellor, Mumbai University has been constituted. The action plan of the Chair aims at overall development of women in rural and urban areas and the focus of its functioning is on upliftment of women who hail from the neglected and downtrodden strata of the society.
Mahatma Gandhi Chair:
Mahatma Gandhi, an apostle of Peace, was not merely the Father of Indian Liberation but also the architect of major social reforms and the overall spiritual regeneration of the country. With the conviction that Mahatma Gandhi’s Philosophy of equality, peace, non-violence and communal harmony is relevant even today and in fact, is the need of the hour, the Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University has instituted the Mahatma Gandhi Chair. Under this initiative, a programme has been formulated to enlighten the people born in the post- Independence period about Gandhiji’s life and Philosophy. As a part of the programme, a seven-day Residential Camp with the theme ‘The Relevance of Mahatma Gandhi’s Philosophy Today’ was organised during 9th October to 15th October 2007 in collaboration with Mumbai Saroday Mandal. 185 students accompanied by their teachers from various parts of the country participated in this Camp. Besides Prayer, Shramdan, Group discussions, Paper presentations and Cultural programme, the participating students were enlightened on Gandhiji’s life, work and philosophy. On 30th January, 2008 a Bhajan Spardha was organized by the university. Nearly two hundred school children participated in this competition and enthralled the audience. These two programmes are intended as a prelude to further activities under the Mahatma Gandhi Chair of the university.
Special services for the Students
A special initiative of this university has been to offer educational opportunities to those who are otherwise treated as social outcasts, mainly as a result of their own doings. The prison inmates, apart from serving their term in jail also need an alternative channel to improve their overall attitude towards life and towards their own social setting. With a view to creating a positive attitude in them through imparting education, the university has established Study Centres in the Central Jails at Nagpur, Kolhapur, Nashik, and Pune. Opportunities for receiving academic counselling support are provided in the prison itself and the programme fees have been waived in their case. During the last five years, the total enrolment of Jail inmates in the State of Maharashtra has been over 2,300 and a number of students have even completed their graduation while in jail.
The visually impaired constitute a ‘special group’ to whom society must pay concerted attention. Many of them actually aspire for higher education and if given an opportunity, they can also excel in a given field. Realising this need, YCMOU has offered educational opportunities to this group by waiving their fees for various academic programmes. In fact, training in computer skills has also been accomplished for some of these less fortunate fellowmen. By virtue of such initiatives, the university concretely endorses its compliance with the international laws for the handicapped. During the last five years the total enrollment of visually impaired persons in YCMOU has been over 300.