Employability has been one of the key problems plaguing the society across the developing countries. There is a strong need for developing a national academic framework that promotes 'education for employability'. The Planning Commission, Government of India has very aptly started the process of preparing an approach to the 12th Five Year Plan and Twelve Strategy Challenges have been identified to initiate these consultations- Enhancing the Capacity for Growth, Enhancing the Skills and Faster Generation of Employment, Managing the Environment, Markets for Efficiency and Inclusion, Decentralisation, Empowerment and Information, Technology and Innovation, Securing the Energy Future, Accelerated Development of Transport Infrastructure, Rural Transformation and Sustained Growth of Agriculture, Managing Urbanisation, Improved Access to Quality Education, and Better Preventive and Curative Health Care. A cursory look at the 12th Plan Strategic Challenges indicates the significant roles of education, skill and employability in all the sectors. Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) will participate proactively in this dialogue initiated by the Planning Commission to accelerate faster, more inclusive and sustainable growth.
The first four year period of the 11th Plan (aptly described as Education Plan) has witnessed unprecedented growth and consolidation in the activities of IGNOU. Some of the important achievements of IGNOU are establishing 11 more new schools, getting the best faculty, experienced consultants, full-time research and teaching assistants and developing relevant new programmes for these schools. The necessary inputs for these activities were given by National Knowledge Commission, Planning Commission and Parliamentary Committee on Higher Education.
This period has also been very fruitful for the University in its national and international networking for effective and optimal utilisation of intellectual capabilities and infrastructural facilities for providing knowledge and skills to vast number of people in a financially sustainable way.
The University has maintained its exacting standards as the premier national resource centre for open and distance learning and seamless provider of quality education, at par with other international institutions of higher learning. The University has also been unwavering in its commitment on access to education and equity in opportunities to women, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, the rural population, remote areas, tribal regions, the differently-abled and the socially and economically weaker sections of society. The student enrolment in IGNOU has doubled in the past four years from 1.5 million to over 3 million, prompting the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to declare it as the largest, most diverse and inclusive institution of higher learning in the world in 2010. Partnering the Government in its various plan schemes and aligning and streamlining teaching and training activities with national priorities delineated by the Planning Commission in the 11th Plan helped the University to grow in the right perspective.
The special issue is an attempt to explore the employability needs of the new age economy. There is a strong need for a well coordinated and comprehensive approach substantially equipped with the proactive participation of the academic community, administrative authorities and statutory bodies along with the ministry to achieve the desired goal. We envision such a collaborative path in approaching the Twelfth Plan for Inclusive Education, Training and Capacity Building at all levels.
With Best Wishes…