The Dhan Foundation, Madurai can be reached on phone numbers: 0452-2610794 or 2610805.

A new education model has been devised for school dropouts (after Tenth Standard) to bring them in to mainstream of higher education.

The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and Dhan Foundation in Madurai have come together by signing a memorandum of understanding for implementing community college concept across Tamil Nadu in order to provide higher education opportunities in rural areas.

“IGNOU has several courses for skill development and through this collaboration we will be able to reach out to dropouts (minimum 18 years of age) who could not pursue after Tenth class,” says S. Gayathri, Team Leader, Dhan Foundation.

The enrolment for admission to community colleges would commence in the first week of January and about 1,500 students are expected to be tapped through the 13 community colleges run by Dhan Foundation at various places in the State.

A special feature under this partnership is that IGNOU would equate a six-month diploma/certificate course with Plus Two and from thereon candidates can go for further education.

To start with, the community college system would offer computer related courses in rural areas.

According to K. Panneerselvam, IGNOU Regional Director for Madurai Regional Centre, the entire idea of tapping community college system was modelled on the U.S. concept and it would pick up gradually. “Over 40 per cent of students are not going beyond 10th standard. This is an opportunity to pursue skill development courses and get eligible for employment,” Dr. Panneerselvam says. The modalities of this collaboration were discussed at a meeting held in New Delhi on October 13 where Vice-Chancellor V. N. Rajasekaran Pillai had expressed optimism over the prospects of community colleges.

Explaining the salient features of community college system, the IGNOU has come out with an underlying theme that it is giving access to education for disadvantaged students at an affordable price.

The curriculum focuses on vocational skills and preparation for employment. It gives flexible timings to candidates. Through this MoU with IGNOU, the Dhan Foundation will make its institutional network available for people joining community colleges and 162 Village Knowledge Centres will be open for them.

The approval of All India Council for Technical Education is also being taken since computer/technical courses will be offered. More information about community college courses can be had from IGNOU Regional Director at Madurai on phone numbers: 0452-2380387 or 0452-2370588.