A special session on ‘Community Colleges- Opportunities and Challenges’ was organised in association with the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) Community College Unit on 13 July 2011 at the World Education Summit 2011 in New Delhi,
The session saw the presence of prominent practitioners from community colleges all across India, who shared with the audience the need for community colleges, challenges, best practices and success stories. Chaired by eminent social reformer Kiran Bedi, the session arrived at a significant outcome with strong implications f growth for the future.
The key speakers elucidated how community colleges are experimenting with rural entrepreneurship on the basis of a need-based curriculum identified by the community. To boost these institutions, it was suggested that the curriculum should be updated regularly and and son training be provided to the students by taking the lab to the field. It was held that these colleges should also aim at developing the confidence of the students, especially through interactions based on love and respect between the students and teachers. ommunity
colleges should also encourage students to innovate during their coursework to create further knowledge. Discussants also drew attention to the fact that ‘unemployability’ is as much a crucial issue in India as unemployment. It was highlighted that job-readiness comes only with soft skills – team spirit, the right attitude, communication skills, the ability to change, etc.
along with technical skills, it is very important to develop soft skills for tapping optimal human potential.Community colleges, therefore, should make soft skills an integral part of the curriculum.
Case studies in innovation
Many interesting innovations in the context of community colleges were discussed at the session. The Mohanb Foundation – (IGNOU Community College), for example, is working towards creating a band of transplant coordinators in India, where they are not yet perceived as healthcare professionals. Organ donation management is an important and emerging profession because there is an acute demand for its services. Another encouraging case that came to light is the ARMY-IGNOU Community Colleges’ vocational education programme for the Army jawans. There are some 47 such colleges all over India and they issue certificates to the jawans for their work in the Army so that their experience in the Army doesn’t go unrecognised. They also train jawans on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and English speaking skills, so that they can begin a second career after the army with ease.