Community colleges equipping learners

Aug 1, 2013 by

Source: The Times of India via India Newswatch

NEW DELHI: In February, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), announced the launch of around 200 community colleges from the 2013 academic session.

Community Colleges (CC) have been in India for some time now. However, these colleges have not yet emerged as an alternative system to the traditional universities. Taking cognizance of this, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), along with the All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), has announced the launch of 200 CC across the country under the National Vocational Education Qualifications Framework (NVEQF) programme. The pilot CCs aim at improving employable skills of learners, providing them opportunities for flexible quality learning at low cost, multiple exit-entry and community based lifelong learning.

Elaborates BK Bhadri, assistant education advisor, MHRD, “These colleges would function from existing colleges/polytechnics, which have been identified by the state/union territories. Combining skills with general education, they will offer modular credit-based programmes relevant to the local employment market with active industry involvement in terms of design, development and delivery of the curriculum including hands-on practical training. While the general education component will conform to university norms, the vocational component will conform to the NVEQF.”

Pardeep Sahni, nodal officer, Community College Unit of Ignou, adds: “The NVEQF scheme has 10 levels. Levels 1-4 are up to class XII, 5-7 complement the graduation programme, levels 8 and 9 are those of the Master’s level and level 10 is equivalent to the doctoral level. A common curriculum has been fixed and the focus of each year is on skill component as well as general education. Within each year the hours for skill development as well general education have been allocated. With each level, the component of skill/vocational education increases and that of general education decreases.”

Colleges will consult industry through the Sector Skill Council (SSC), constituted by National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), for development of curriculum and evaluation of skills. However, till SSCs prescriptions are available, the pilot CCs will develop their curriculum on the lines of the model curriculum in 12 sectors developed by AICTE in consultation with the relevant industry. Speaking of the student profile that these colleges will attract, Bhadri says, “The colleges will cover all age and qualification groups, i.e., persons with no formal academic qualification, school drop-outs, high school and diploma-holders, etc.

However, at the pilot stage it may focus on students who have completed class XII, i.e., levels 5-7 of the NVEQF.” In order to ensure the sustainability of the scheme, a committee comprising nine education ministers, headed by Archana Chitnis, minister of school education, Madhya Pradesh, visited the US to study the community college model.

Speaking on the findings of the committee, Bhadri says, “The team observed that the CC system has been working well in the US for the last 50 years. However, all its features cannot be imported to India due to the socio- economic and socio-cultural differences that the two countries have in spite of several similarities.” The committee, accordingly, emphasized that the pilot CC should meet the contemporary needs of the community/ society and the nation at large.

Some of the important recommendations of the committee include the award of certificate, diplomas, advanced diplomas and associate degrees, the dovetailing of the courses with the levels of the NVEQF to facilitate mobility between general and vocational education by bridging the credit gap, and adequate laboratory/ workshop facilities in colleges.

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