The National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) prides itself for
being in a position to fulfil the basic education related needs of every student.Headquartered in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, the NIOS operates through a network of 15 regional centres, two sub-regional centres and over 3,700 study centres across India, Nepal and the Middle East. NIOS employs 251 fulltime staff. The importance of the institution lies in the fact that it serves the educational needs of school drop-outs and marginalised groups, including Scheduled Castes and Tribes (SCs and STs), rural youth, urban poor, girls, ex-servicemen and people with disabilities. Under the Open Learning System, NIOS is the only national level Board. The secondary and senior secondary programmes offered here are equivalent to the grade I 0 and 12 programmes of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and have the same status for admission to higher studies and employment. In fact, many students from NIOS go on to study at conventional schools and colleges including the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). In one specific instance a student, after having passed out of NIOS, completed a degree course in aeronautical engineering and is now pursuing higher studies in a prestigious university abroad.
Expanding the reach of education
Along with offering secondary level courses in three mediums of English, Hindi and Urdu, the NIOS also offers such courses in five regional languages namely Marathi, Telugu, Gujarati, Malayalam and Oriya. Senior secondary level programmes are offered in English, Hindi and Urdu medium. A number of vocational courses are also on offer to meet the demands of the job market and the interest of the learners. About 85 courses are on offer in the areas of Agriculture, Engineering and Technology, Health and Paramedical, Home Science and Hospitality Management, Computer and Information Technology, Business and Commerce and Teacher Training. The students taking the vocational programmes go on to provide the skilled manpower, a critical element in driving India’s economic growth
In 2010-2011, the NIOS had 4,70,834 enrolees and a cumulative student enrolment of 2.2 million in the 27 secondary subjects, 21 senior secondary subjects and over 80 certificate and diploma vocational programmes which implies an annual growth of about 14 percent to its total enrolment. Of the total learners enrolled, about 30 percent in the academic stream (Secondary & Sr. Secondary) and 55 percent in vocational education are girls, which is a substantial one. The majority of students are aged between 15-25 years.
Forging new partnerships in ODL To
reach out to its learners, the NIOS uses study centres that provide administrative and academic support. Those supporting the secondary and senior secondary students are called Accredited Institutions (AIs) and those supporting the vocational students are known as Accredited Vocational Institutions (AVIs). NIOS develops its own course materials, which are more appropriate for selfstudy. Printed Self Instructional study materials are supported by Audio-Video programmes. A half-yearly magazine ‘Open Learning’ is also provided to the learners. Approximately 3.93 lakh copies of combined study materials were despatched to the learners during the year 2010-11. At NIOS we have a Learner Support Centre (LSC) to address the problems of online learners that relate to admissions, courseware, examinations, results etc. Functioning on the pattern of a Call Centre, the Learner Support Executives respond to the queries of learners. The Adolescence Education Programme (AEP) of the NIOS in collaboration with MHRD and UNFPA has adopted a new approach with a focus on integrating subject knowledge with life skills. The NIOS is also in the process of developing a diploma course in Elementary Education for in-service training of elementary teachers.
Assessing the learners
For admissions and examinations the NIOS has a system of online registration, under the NIOS Online (Ni-On) Programme. Learners with different needs are served through four streams of online admission. The NIOS conducts examinations twice a year in April-May and October- November for the benefit
of the learners who can avail as many as nine chances to appear in the examinations. To introduce greater flexibility in the system, the NIOS has also introduced the On Demand Examination System (ODES) at the Secondary and Senior Secondary levels. These exams are conducted at the NIOS headquarters in Noida as well as its regional centres. The results are made available within 45 days on the NIOS website: www.nios.ac.in.