Thursday, May 28, 2009

IGNOU ties up with MS Swaminathan Foundation to open four community colleges: One in KORAPUT

Times of India, May 26, 2009

CHENNAI: Emphasising the potential of community colleges to equip unskilled sections of the population with academic and professional capability, V N Rajasekaran Pillai, vice-chancellor, IGNOU (Indira Gandhi National Open University), said that it was important to integrate such potential into the system of higher education.

Speaking on Monday at a regional meeting on community colleges here, organised at the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) by IGNOU in association with the Tamil Nadu Open University (TNOU), Pillai said: "School dropouts will be eligible for admission in the third year of college after completing the two-year associate degree programme offered by IGNOU at community colleges; 89% of children enrolled in school across the country do not pass Class X, and 11% of those admitted end up being dropouts."

Pointing out that it was important to contextualise these programmes, Pillai said IGNOU had shortlised 71 colleges where the courses would be introduced and was hoping to be able to shortlist 200 more this year. "IGNOU in association with MSSRF will open in July four community colleges - at Koraput in Orissa, Wayanad in Kerala, Poompuhar in Tamil Nadu and in Pondicherry," he said.

Since the programmes were innovative and flexible, the course content could be modified by colleges to cater to the needs of the local population, such as translating it into local languages or addressing topics that are of relevance to beneficiaries. Pillai added that since community colleges were varied, there was a need to put in place an independent accreditation system, following an international pattern, to monitor them.

M S Swaminathan, chairman, MSSRF, said that community colleges could help provide vertical mobility to those in the unorganised sector. "Though the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) provides the rural population work for 100 days a year, community colleges can serve them for the remaining part of the year if they take off in terms of skill formation," he said. Swaminathan said he hoped to see a community college in each of India's 6,000 blocks as they could lead to a transition from unskilled to skilled work.

The event also saw the inauguration of IGNOU's virtual counselling and distance education centre at MSSRF, which will help academics connect with the rural population for educational counselling and assess their needs.

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