Soldiers, airmen and sailors are miffed with the decision of the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) to discontinue with its Community College Scheme (CCS) for the armed forces. To make matters worse, close to 3,00,000 military personnel who had enrolled for the scheme are yet get a refund, totaling a whopping Rs 30 crore.
Around Rs 750 each was collected from the military personnel for the IGNOU educational certification programme under the joint venture projects named Gyandeep (Army), Akashdeep (IAF) and Sagardeep (Navy). The Army, IAF and Navy had inked MoUs with IGNOU from 2009-2010 to ensure that in-house training of their personnel below officer rank (PBOR) was “recognized” with diplomas/certificates issued by the varsity under the CCS. The military personnel would then have to undergo just one year’s open programme with IGNOU to get a graduation degree, which would enhance their prospects of a second career after their retirement from military service in their 30s and 40s.
The armed forces have now taken up the issue with the HRD ministry, through the Defence ministry, to demand that IGNOU either confer the servicemen with the educational certification promised to them or expeditiously refund their money.
IGNOU says it discontinued all face-to-face courses after a Delhi High Court order.
However, the IGNOU review committee in 2012 had recommended discontinuance of all community colleges. But crucially, the committee had also said that the one for armed forces should be continued since it falls under IGNOU’s objective of bringing those educated under non-formal systems into the formal system.
In the Army alone, around 4,00,000 soldiers had enrolled for the CCS programme with around Rs 28 crore being paid to IGNOU. Similarly, around Rs 3.5 crore were collected from the airmen in IAF. But while 1,00,000 soldiers in the Army did get their diplomas from IGNOU, around 3 lakh were left high and dry when the scheme was scrapped.