A pact was inked between the Indian Army and the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) to grant degrees to soldiers during their service, a step aimed at providing the jawans with a second career option. Gyan Deep, the programme which aims to equip the soldiers who join the force just after school with a graduation degree is based on the US system of community colleges in defence cantonments. It is to benefit a majority of the 1.2 million soldiers in the army. Army chief General Deepak Kapoor and IGNOU Vice Chancellor V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai were present at the signing of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) here. Every year nearly 50,000 trained soldiers retire from the army after an average of 15 years in service.
The programme will impart market-driven courses and soft skills to them. After retirement, a second career option is difficult to be sought by soldiers due to lacunae in the academic qualifications, required for the specific jobs in public and private sectors, where a formal degree from a recognised university or institute is mandatory. The IGNOU will register Regimental Training Centres, Human Resource Development Centres of the Indian Army and Army Schools of Instructions as ‘community colleges’. The Army-IGNOU Community Colleges will continue functioning as autonomous bodies conducting examinations and their courses as hitherto fore. The soldiers will need 92 credits for getting a graduation degree. The first 64 credits will be given to the soldier for his work within the army. He will also need to do some courses for which he will be awarded certificates. Thereafter he will go to the IGNOU programme to earn the remaining credits. For those soldiers who join after Class 10, the army will be organising bridge courses to bring them at par with those who have completed Class 12.