Empowering Air Force Personnel through Knowledge
IGNOU has entered into a collaboration venture with Indian Air Force and signed MoU to enable airmen to achieve graduate status in service within 8-13 years of their service
IGNOU has entered the defence personnel education sector with the Indian Air Force (IAF) and is entering into collaboration recently for certification of the knowledge, skills and in-service training for Indian Air Force personnel. This scheme named as Akashdeep has the potential to transform post-retirement life of airmen by equipping them with formal civil qualification from a national university and preparing them for competitive job avenues, particularly in the area of vocational education and skill development.
Akashdeep collaboration between IAF and IGNOU
Structured around the modular education, skill development and knowledge advancement programmes of IGNOU, the existing Airmen Training Institutes have been registered as Community College Centres of IGNOU which maintains a high degree of flexibility and autonomy. This will enable all serving airmen to obtain a bachelors degree through a stepwise education and examination at certificate, diploma, advance diploma and associate degree levels which will be in the areas like arts, science, commerce, business administration, hotel management, hospitality services, paramedical sciences, office management, automobile trade, and performing arts. The academic expertise of the IGNOU in the 21 schools of studies, and over 60 regional centres across the country along with the vast and the state-of-the-art training infrastructure of the Indian Air Force will provide the necessary logistical support for the education, training and examination of the airmen at various levels.
The IGNOU Act and Statutes that are mentioned under the First Schedule (Section-4) states that “the University shall (a) strengthen and diversify the degree, certificate and diploma courses related to the needs of employment and necessary for building the economy of the country on the basis of its natural and human resources; (b) provide education and training in various arts, crafts and skills of the country, raining their quality and improving their availability to the people.”
The certificate, diploma and associate degree programmes that were offered through the Community Colleges were framed by various academic and administrative bodies of the University following the Act and Statutes. While formulating and implementing this scheme, the university has also taken into consideration the recommendations of the National Knowledge Commission, National Skills Mission, the Planning Commission (11th Plan) and the Committees constituted by the University Grants Commission for the 2-year Associate Degree programme and the Community Colleges. IGNOU Act 1985, Section 2(d) provides for establishing colleges, maintaining academic institutions as colleges or admitting colleges to the privileges of the University for realising such objectives. The award of the 2-year Associate Degree is by a credit accumulation process wherein a learner through successful completion of several stand-alone modules, gets a Certificate (12-16 credits), Diploma (24-32 credits) and finally an Associate Degree (64 credits).
IAF-IGNOU Training Institutes
The IAF-IGNOU Community Colleges that are identified and registered under this collaboration are the Air Force Police and Security Training Institute, Bagpat, U.P., Garud Regimental Training Centre, Chandinagar, U.P., Mechanical Transport Training Institute, Avadi, Chennai, Mechanical Training Institute, Tambaram, Chennai, Basic Training Institute, Belgaum, Non-Technical Training Institute, Belgaum, Air Force School of Physical Fitness, Belgaum, Communication Training Institute, Bangalore, Electrical and Instrument Training Institute, Bangalore, Medical Training Centre, Bangalore, Workshop Training Institute, Tambaram, Chennai, and Electronic Training Institute, Jalahhalli, Bangalore, Each of these centres will have a coordinator and a number of trainers and academic counsellors recognised by the Indira Gandhi National Open University.
This will enable all serving airmen to obtain a bachelor degree through a stepwise education and examination at certificate, diploma, advance diploma and associate degree levels which will be in diverse areas
The IAF-IGNOU Community Colleges will identify the academic programmes which are to be offered to the community of airmen and NCs(E) (Non Combatants Enrolled and Civilians). These are the people at personal assistant level to officers equivalent to the order of Indian Army.
The criteria laid down by IGNOU for Community Colleges for award of associate degree and subsequently a full-fledged bachelor degree would form the broad basis for registration of Airmen Training Institutes of the Indian Air Force as “Air Force-IGNOU Community Colleges.” These IAF-IGNOU Community Colleges shall continue with or have a structured curriculum which would broadly correspond to a two years curriculum (4-semesters) including on the job training (OJT) for award of an associate degree. The length of the semesters will be permitted to be extended over prolonged periods to permit the individuals to continue to function in their respective appointments while also working towards academic qualifications. The maximum duration of associate degree programme shall be decided by the Air Force Headquarters, which in no case can be less than two years and May be extended upto the service tenure of the participant of the programme. The list of compulsory and elective courses for the graduate degrees will be worked out jointly between IGNOU and Indian Air Force through an Academic Committee from the list of courses being conducted by IGNOU/THE IAF.
IGNOU lays down the following parameters for semesters, which will form the broad basis for planning of semesters within the Air Force-IGNOU Community Colleges:
a) 1st Semester: Basic Foundation Course (16 Credits). An individual’s period under Joint Basic Phase Training May be counted against his first semester as compulsory subjects.
b) 2nd Semester: Applied/Professional Course in the chosen programme (16 Credits). An individual’s period under Module-I Training May be counted against his second semester as Compulsory subjects.
c) 3rd Semester: This May include qualifications attained through the knowledge upgradation course Module-II, and would broadly include the following Application oriented courses (8 credits) and Elective Courses (8 credits).
d) 4th Semester: This may include qualifications attained towards knowledge upgradation through compulsory internship, project and project work obtained during ‘On the Job Training’ (OJT), (16 Credits).
Committees to oversee the venture
The following Governance Units/Committees have been constituted to oversee
this collaboration: a) AF Liaison cell in IGNOU premises b) Joint Consultative Committee comprising members of IGNOU and the IAF which would meet quarterly c) A five-member Air Force-IGNOU Academic Committee (AFIAC), under the chair of Air Officer In-charge personnel or his nominee from IAF and a representative from IGNOU shall be constituted to address and resolve functional academic content of courses, number of credits for a subject, examination issues, award of certificates, diplomas, associate degrees or degrees of IGNOU by Air Force-IGNOU Community Colleges and any other issue(s) brought to its notice/attention. The Air Force-IGNOU Academic Committee will facilitate formulation of the detailed Standard Operating Procedures/ Administrative Instructions for the various programmes.
Armed Force Training Institutions across India
The Indian Armed Forces has set up numerous military academies across India for training its personnel like Military Schools, Sainik Schools, and the Rashtriya Indian Military College to broaden the recruitment base of the Defence Forces. The three branches of the Indian Armed Forces jointly operate several institutions such as the National Defence Academy (NDA), Defence Services Staff College (DSSC), National Defence College (NDC) and College of Defence Management (CDM) for training its officers. The Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC) Pune is responsible for providing the entire pool of medical staff to Armed Forces by giving them in service training. Besides these institutions, Indian Air Force has a training command and several training establishments. While technical and other support staffs are trained at various ground training schools, pilots are trained at the Air Force Academy located at Dundigul. The Pilot Training Establishment at Allahabad, Air Force Administrative College at Coimbatore, School of Aviation Medicine at Bangalore, Air Force Technical Training College at Jalahalli and Paratrooper’s Training School at Agra are some of the other training establishments of IAF. The expertise of these internationally renowned training institutions will contribute to the knowledge base of this IGNOU-IAF Collaboration.
Previously, IGNOU has also launched Gyandeep initiative last year in collaboration with army wherein a total of 308 Personnel Below Officers’ Rank (PBOR) of the Indian Army were awarded Associate Degrees, Diplomas and Certificates by IGNOU in different courses of telecommunications and computers at Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), New Delhi in April 2010. The PBORs were from Army Corps of Signals in Jabalpur. The aim of the project was to confer educational certification to PBORs by according recognition to in-service training carried out by individuals during the span of their service career and also to empower all PBORs by arming them with a diploma and degree so as to facilitate a second career post retirement and preparing them for competitive job avenues. More recently, IGNOU is also contemplating same kind of collaboration/ venture with INS.