A partnership has been forged between Indira Gandhi National Open University and the Indian Army to train soldiers and award them degrees during their service period. It also aims at providing them with a second career option post retirement.

Under the new venture to be known as “Gyandeep”, IGNOU will register the Army’s 38 regimental training centres, 55 human resource development centres, 11 central training centres and other established schools of instruction as community colleges where soldiers will be trained and imparted learning in their chosen vocations.

Taking a leaf out of the US system of community colleges in defence cantonments, the scheme is expected to benefit a majority of the 1.2 million soldiers in the Army. It will enable jawans to not only earn a degree but also master livelihood-driven courses. They will be awarded B.A., BBA, B.Sc. and B.Com. degrees depending on their area of study.

Typically Indian Army soldiers retire around 40, with a productive span of nearly 15-20 years ahead of them. Post retirement there is a demand for ex-Servicemen in industries, enterprises and security services because of their long training and discipline. A formal degree will not only enhance their personality but also enhance employment opportunities for them.

The entry of the soldiers into the community college system is expected to increase the gross enrolment ratio in higher education and also enhance the gross graduation ratio.

Soldiers can take admission to a community college in their training academy and pursue the course according to their convenience. Individuals who successfully complete two years will be awarded an associate degree. Thereafter they will be given lateral entry to the third year of a three-year degree course for a graduate degree. The soldiers will need 96 credits for being awarded a graduate degree.

A five-member joint consultative committee representing IGNOU and the Indian Army has been formed to formulate a structured curriculum for the two-year associate degree as well as lay guidelines for in-service soldiers to enhance their education and upgrade skills.