TAMIL NADU Agricultural University (TNAU) is planning to launch open and distance learning (ODL) through the electronic learning mode in order to reach larger numbers of people.C. Ramasamy, Vice-Chancellor, TNAU, said that the University was also planning a "tech-mode partnership" with Common Wealth of Learning (COL), Canada, to enhance the distance learning activities.

Multimedia modules

He said that the University would produce multimedia modules on compact discs - on subjects related to agriculture and allied sciences - to supplement the distance learning lessons. Besides establishing Internet connectivity for online technology transfer through ODL programmes, the University would involve private agencies and development departments for conducting courses.He said that the University had signed a memorandum of understanding with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Washington DC, United States, to facilitate the Global Open Food and Agricultural University to help implement collaborative activities.

Convergent mode

Partnerships were also likely with the International Crops Research Institute for Semi Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in Hyderabad, M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) in Chennai, State Agricultural Universities, Maharashtra Fishery and Animal Sciences University, Maharashtra Knowledge Corporation, Yashwanth Rao Chavan Open University, Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (TANUVAS) and Tamil Nadu Open University (TNOU), besides Madras University and Anna University (both in Chennai).

Educational system

"The major aim is to transform TNAU from its formal educational system to a dual and convergent mode by adopting appropriate policies and systems of open and distance learning and ICT (Information and Communication Technology), so as to provide entrepreneurial skills for self-employment, continuing professional education and extension education to the rural people of Tamil Nadu," Prof. Ramasamy said.

Consortium

Based on the advice of the Common Wealth of Learning (COL) in Canada, TNAU had taken steps to form a consortium of four institutions, along with Kerala Agricultural University, ICRISAT in Hyderabad and Maharashtra Fishery and Animal Sciences University.

Environmental Management

Primary target groups for distance learning programmes were farmers, representatives of local institutions, field service providers from local communities, school dropouts and villagers. Secondary target groups were entrepreneurs, State extension personnel, representatives of non-Governmental organisations, members of self-help groups and employees in private sector institutions.

Eligibility

At present, the Directorate of Open and Distance Learning of TNAU offered two post-graduate degree programmes in Master of Business Adminstration (MBA) and M.Sc. in Environmental Management. For the three-year MBA course, the eligibility was B.Sc. Agriculture or allied subjects and for the two-year M.Sc. course, any science degree except physics and mathematics.The directorate also offered three post-graduate diploma courses of one-year duration each, in Production and Quality Control in Medicinal Plants, Food Biotechnology and Bioinformatics.For the medicinal plant course, the eligibility was any degree and for the other two courses, life science degrees.

Certificate courses

Besides this, the directorate offered 12 certificate courses in Tamil, for duration of six months each. Those who had studied up to 6th Standard were eligible to join.The certificate courses were in sugarcane production technology, coconut cultivation, cotton cultivation, waste recycling and vermicomposting, bee keeping, mushroom production, cotton and maize hybrid seed production, vegetable seed production, preservation of fruits and vegetables, wasteland development, nursery techniques and propagation of horticultural plants, and repair and maintenance of farm equipment and machinery.

Contact Programme

Based on the nature of the course offered, TNAU had identified `Personal Contact Programme Centres (PCP)' from among the research stations of the University, located in different part of Tamil Nadu. For further details, contact: The Director, Directorate of Open and Distance Learning, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore - 641 003. E-mail: odl@tnau.ac.in Telephone: 0422-5511229, 5511429 or 5511202. A. A. MICHAEL RAJ