As you walk through Mumbai University’s Kalina campus you find that the only places which students make a beeline for are the IDOL (Institute of Distance Open Learning), examination centre and the lecture complex. But glance to your right. You will come across what may appear as a nondescript part of the 156 year old University. This is Centre for Extra Mural Studies. Dig deeper and you will be transported to a different world.
“Till 1994, the Centre had rural centric programmes,” says Mugdha Karnik, its director. Post ‘94, however, the authorities had to come up with sustainable solutions to continue to be part of the University,” says Karnik.
The Centre has been functional since 1905. The centre has taken several new initiatives over the years. Karnik explains, “We had to catch the interest of those living in a metropolis like Mumbai.”
Newly introduced programmes like nursery and gardening, basic astronomy, and ancient Indian arts and sciences have found takers amongst students and professionals alike.
Karnik informs that even those holding high positions in the corporate world come to the Centre to learn something new or just to take a break from their hectic routine. She remembers a paediatric student who came for the Astronomy and Astrophysics course and then returned the next term with his spouse to learn Geology. “We do not advertise our course. Ours is a word of mouth promotion, where students recommend our programmes to people they know,” says Karnik.
The Centre offers seven certificate courses, namely, astronomy and astrophysics, nursery and gardening maintenance, dramatics, archaeology, taxonomy of plants and animals, ancient Indian arts and science, archaeology, and the primary care paramedics.
“We have a very simple admission procedure, and eligibility to any of our courses is 10+2,” informs Karnik. The primary care paramedics, for instance, requires 10+2 from any stream. Taught in 10 modules over six months, the course trains one in human systems, CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) proficiency, dealing with trauma cases and disaster management.
Of the three branches that route out of the Centre, the utility course section offers 12 courses. Right from garden craft, garden maintenance and geology to English speaking and grammar and from film appreciation to tree appreciation, the Centre has it all.
The tree appreciation course was introduced in 2003. “Thanks to the effort of our faculty, we have published a book on Trees in Mumbai,” says Karnik.
Even school students are welcome to join the Center. During vacations the Centre throws its doors open to students for subjects like Maths, physics, chemistry and even fun subjects like robotics, origami, cartoon sketching and even the science of magic. “Our doors are open to anyone who wants to learn. It can be a school student, a collegian, a professional or retired person,” concludes Karnik.
Activities outside the classroom
Caves workshop at Kanheri and Elephanta caves
Monsoon Nature Trails
Walks in tree habitats