To provide professional certification for higher learning among the soldiers.

The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) has joined hands with the Indian Army in an attempt to provide professional certification for higher learning among the soldiers.

Called ‘Indian Army-IGNOU Community Colleges’, the programme will seek to facilitate certification of the knowledge and skills/in-service training received by the soldiers, within the educational framework stipulated by IGNOU.

Elaborating on the joint venture, Latha Pillai, Pro Vice Chancellor of IGNOU, who is spearheading the community colleges project, told The Hindu-EducationPlus, that the university has entered in to an agreement with the Indian Army to register various regimental training centres and army schools of instruction of Indian Army as community colleges.

“If need be, IGNOU would also introduce new subjects in the curriculum. Upon completion of 96 credits, the degree awarded would be similar to the ones awarded to other students,” she said. Stating that the certification and enhancement of educational qualifications would be within the broad framework of community colleges set up by IGNOU, Dr. Pillai said that community colleges will empower the already excellent training system within the Indian Army and provide an opportunity for in-service trainings to be benchmarked and credits issued for the Indian-Army soldiers (both men and officers) to obtain a formal degree.

In due course, this innovative process will allow for lateral entry in to the regular university system by allowing the candidates enrolled in certificate, diploma or associate degree courses to accumulate credits.

An additional commitment of a year’s study under the formal IGNOU undergraduate programme will enable the candidates to obtain a degree. Dr. Pillai said that the Army-IGNOU community colleges will create flexible learning opportunities for personnel of the Indian Army. According to the IGNOU, the Indian Army has recruited personnel with three broad categories of educational qualifications that include below 12th class, 12th pass, and graduates and above. It has a robust educational and training infrastructure including 38 regimental training centres; 55 human resource development centres; 11 central training centres and other established schools of instruction.

These centres, under the memorandum of understanding, are being registered as community colleges. Dr. Pillai said that basic foundation course of 16 credits will be offered during the first semester.

For non 12th class soldiers, basic military semester will be counted as bridge course.

The applied course in the chosen programme sector will be offered during the second semester while the third semester will consist of Army Class 2 Standards (16 credits – application oriented courses (8 credits) and elective courses (8 credits). Elective courses, compulsory internship and project work in the fourth semester will earn 16 credits.

The 64 credits obtained on successful completion of associate gegree will become transferable towards the completion of 96 credits in total in order to obtain a degree.

The third year of 32 credits will be earned with IGNOU. Subsequent accumulation of credits and a third year of graduation with IGNOU can be taken within five years of completion of the associate degree.

The objective of the community colleges programme is to develop an alternate system of education that aims to empower individuals through appropriate skill development leading to gainful employment in collaboration with the industry and the community.

They offer the advantage of tailoring programmes to local needs and State-based requirements by using approaches that will be most acceptable to workers in the given community.