IMPHAL, May 3: `The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), in addition to providing higher education at the graduate, post-graduate and doctoral levels, has a strong presence in the skill development and vocational education sectors across the country. This is reflected in the number of diplomas and certificates awarded by the university during the last five convocations.
According to a release of the Regional Director i/c, IGNOU, Imphal out of the seven lakh qualifications awarded by the University in the last five years, 2.5 lakh (35 percent) were graduates and above, and 4.5 lakh (65 percent) were Certificates and Diplomas,` said Prof. V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai, VC, IGNOU.
It further stated that this emphasis on skill development is well in line with the objectives of the University delineated in the IGNOU Act, 1985: `To strengthen and diversify the Degree, Certificate and Diploma courses related to the needs of employment and necessary for building the economy of the country on the basis of its natural and human resources; provide education and training in the various arts, crafts and skills of the country, raising their quality and improving their availability to the people`.
It further stated that seamless transition from the Certificate/Diploma to higher-level university degrees is also intended through such activities. The course-credit pattern and the modularity of the various courses, which constitute several programmes leading to a qualification, were in vogue in IGNOU from its very inception. In this connection, it is very important that the University system should promote the Diploma to Degree transition for aspiring Diploma holders. In the technical education system, there are avenues in specific universities for Diploma holders to join at the second or third year of the Engineering Degree Programme. A similar pattern is necessary for the conventional universities and the Open University System as well.
It further added that the fact that a vast majority of these Diploma holders are working people from industry or working in grassroots-level organisations lends further credibility to this proposal. Making Diploma or Advanced Diploma holders eligible for admission to a University Degree has been an established practice in higher education systems all over the world. In the US University system, 46 percent of the admissions to University Degree programmes are through the Associate Degree (Credit equivalence to the Advanced Diploma) programme of the vast and robust network of Community Colleges over there. This will be a major step towards linking the skill development sector and vocational education with higher education that is the major forte of the University System.
In the proposed National Vocational Qualification Framework (NVQF) of the Ministry of Human Resource Development, this transfer from the vocational sector to the higher education sector is being facilitated, the release added.
Certificate (16 credits), Diploma (32 credits), Advanced Diploma or Associate Degree (64 credits) `” which is a terminal qualification `” are the qualifications prevalent in the skill development and vocational education sectors. The difference between the Advanced Diploma and Associate Degree specifications are that the Associate Degree provides additional content, which will make the candidates well-prepared for University education in the concerned discipline, it added.
A look at the Statistical Bulletin on the 2010 status of the Open University System of China indicates that the Associate Degree, which is in between the Certificate and Bachelor`™s Degree, is the largest qualification base over there. In 2010, 4,12,400 students graduated with an Associate Degree, 6,914 received a Bachelor`™s Degree and 38,000 received Certificates from the China Open University System, it added.
`Similar possibilities of acquiring two-year Associate Degree/Advanced Diploma qualifications and making students employable in the work-sector and at the same time giving them opportunity to acquire a higher qualification from a University, as and when they want, are in existence in all developed and fastly-developing countries. IGNOU has initiated the two-year Associate Degree Programme through the Community Colleges in line with the recommendations of the National Knowledge Commission and the Planning Commission, Government of India. After a two-year-long academic deliberation involving expertise from all over the country, we formally launched the programme in 2008. The first Associate Degrees was awarded in the 22nd Convocation of the University,` he added.
Such efforts in skill development that provide multiple horizontal and vertical pathways for mobility are very necessary for making people employable and enhancing the Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER). The Governments of Haryana and Madhya Pradesh, Indian Army, Indian Navy, M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, Jindal Education Initiative, Ministry of Textiles, Government of India, Apparel Promotion and Exports Council (APEC) of India and about 300 Civil Society Organisations in the public and private sector are the partners of IGNOU in this nationwide Community College Initiative, it added.