The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) on Saturday started 100 community colleges to bring a 'learning revolution' among under-privileged students across the country. Launching the community college programme of IGNOU, Minister of State for Human Resource Development D. Purandeswari said, 'This effort will empower the disadvantaged through appropriate skill development, leading to gainful employment of people in the grassroots. This will bring a learning revolution. This scheme will lead to inclusive education for most marginalised section of the society.' A unique initiative, community colleges will impart education through private-public partnership to underprivileged students using the unutilised capacities of educational institutions across the country. The colleges will commence their courses from the coming academic session. IGNOU Vice Chancellor V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai said the present educational system does not match up to the skill requirement in the market. 'These community colleges will impart vocational education to do away with the prevalent mismatch.'
The students who attend these colleges shall acquire associate degrees, which will ensure them a lateral entry to the bachelor's programme for a formal graduation degrees. Initially 100 out of 800 applicant colleges have been selected to run the community colleges. Most of them are private institutions. IGNOU's role will be accreditation, quality monitoring and evaluation, certification and course development. Each selected college has an average capital investment of Rs.150 million including land, building, equipment and other facilities. The institutions have also tied up with local industries, both small and heavy. Ten to 15 teachers will be put on rolls in each college to conduct the classes for the enrolled students. Apart from use of information technology, there will also be personal contact and counselling to develop sound teaching-learning processes. Pointing out that just five percent of labour force in India have vocational qualification, Pillai termed his initiative 'a grass root movement for education.' IGNOU is the world's largest open university, with over 300 courses catering to more than two million students in India and abroad through distance education.