An exciting development is unfolding as you read this. It is a change that promises to allow millions access skills to materialise their dreams and be a part of India’s development. They could be unskilled workers in an urban area or a girl in a rural household wanting to get qualification and skills to bring growth to community.
This note of optimism emerges from signs of the beginning of a new chapter in India’s non-formal education system by the way of community colleges.
Recently, over 250 institutions from across the country came together at Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) to brainstorm ideas and plans to give a determined push to open community colleges across India. This meeting can easily be called a milestone in this journey.
An immediate follow-up of this is visible in the roll out of a plan to introduce the concept of community colleges in the July fall of this academic year through some 200 institutions, under the IGNOU.
A large population constituting diverse levels of social and economic development in India translates into complex challenges for passing on the benefits of education and skill development to people who have not had access to education or dropped out of schools, or simply had to join the job market at whatever level they could. The community colleges are an answer to this.
The need for community colleges is undeniable for a nation where, adult literacy rate is as low as 61% and 89% of its students enrolled in schools drop out.
By the very nature of this concept of seamless and openly structured education, ICT will be a major pillar in both its management and dissemination.
Through this special issue we aim to stimulate research and discuss the issue of Community Colleges as a viable and alternative system of education. We have also attempted to consolidate the performance of similar ventures in helping the community emerge as functional players in the economy.
We express our deepest appreciation to IGNOU, especially the Hon Vice Chancellor, for their guidance throughout the entire process of bringing out the special issue.