The skills of a cook or a locality motor mechanic could now help him earn a certificate or a degree, if the person is willing to put in a few hours of classroom study everyday.
“We now have a system where skills of a person will help him enroll in a community college and get a degree or a certificate depending on number of credits the student earns,” said Om Prakash Sharma, Pro-Vice Chancellor of Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), the country’s largest open university, after launch the credit education system on Saturday.
A person can do IGNOU’s six-month Bachelor Preparatory Programme, equivalent to class XII, and then take admission in a community college. There, he or she will earn credits for the quality of their skills.
For instance, if the total credits required to complete a particular course are 96 and students has earned 60 through work experience, “the remaining 36 credits he or she can earn in the classroom and get certification that will be recognised in all universities in India,” Sharma said.
Community colleges are a relatively new concept in India, unlike United States and Canada, where they are extremely popular known as junior colleges. Community colleges, which have opened in Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra, have flexible timings for students to attend classes.
On Saturday, the Community College courses got recognition with IGNOU launching its programme to grant certificate for one-year course and an associate degree for two years course. “The associate degree will be equivalent to a pass-out of second year from a degree college and will allow lateral entry of students to formal education system,” Sharma said.
NGOs, civil society groups (like Delhi-based All-India Women’s Conference) and companies will be allowed to open community colleges and get recognition from IGNOU. To start with, IGNOU has short-listed 100 applications received from 800 community colleges around India.
“The beneficiaries of the community colleges will be the schoolchildren who will be allowed to go for full-time, part-time or optional approaches to develop themselves,” said minister of state for Human Resource Development D Purandeshwari, while launching the programme.
Sharma said the community colleges would prepare their own syllabus and conduct examination under supervision of IGNOU. “We will compromise on rigidity of timing but not on academics,” he added.
IGNOU expects that in a year’s time there will be more than 1,000 community colleges in India, offering courses for the certificate and degree programme.