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Get skilled, transparent

delhi Updated: Nov 03, 2009 23:27 IST
Joyeeta Ghosh

You too may have something in common with California Governor and Hollywood actor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Chemistry Nobel prize winner George Lucas — if you enrol in a community college.

On Tuesday, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and American Association of Community Colleges participated in an interactive session on community colleges.

Community colleges run under larger regular colleges, offer two-year courses in vocational skills.

They are especially useful to those unable to study in a

conventional education system.(See box).

The session was organised by US-India Educational Foundation and its focus was to evaluate how the American model of Community Colleges (CCs) can be adopted in India. IGNOU has 50 CCs registerd with it already.

Interesting figures emerged from the interactive session.

In the US, CCs constitute the largest segment of higher education. These include nearly 1,200 institutions with an enrollment of 11 million students.

In sharp contrast, in India the figure is merely 11 per cent. This is especially relevant because only 5 per cent of the total workforce in India has some kind of certification, as compared to 85 per cent in developed nations.

Community colleges can prove very valuable in bridging this disparity.

In the US, CCs offer vocation-oriented educational programmes and training to students, laced with placements, as all courses are promoted and supported by industries.

“We shall explore best practices in the US system and examine whether these are compatible with Indian conditions,” said IGNOU Pro-Vice Chancellor Dr Latha Pillai said.

Referring to IGNOU’s recent tie-up with the Indian Army for setting up CCs to empower in-service and retired personnel, Pillai expressed the hope that in about five years, the enrolment figure will reach 5 million.

Common service centres in village panchayats can be turned into vibrant community colleges too, said Pillai.