Staff Reporter

Recognition as alternative education demanded

CHENNAI: The community college system must be accorded recognition as an alternative education system in the country.

This demand was discussed at the fifth national consultation on the Indian Community College System and its future on Wednesday.

There are 96 community colleges across the State, including 20 in Chennai coordinated by the Madras Centre for Research and Development of Community Education (MCRDCE).

About 240 delegates gathered at M.O.P Vaishnav College to review the Document Indian Community College System and recommend feedback to the University Grants Commission (UGC). Community colleges aimed at providing job-oriented education. Women constituted about 75 per cent of the candidates trained in various vocational skills.

Inaugurating the two-day programme, David T.Hopper, U.S. Consul General, Chennai, spoke about the community college system in the U.S. that was attended by 45 per cent of undergraduate students.

Pointing out that India and U.S. shared experiences about educational systems, he said that a group of community college presidents from the American Association of Community Colleges and the Community Colleges for International Development would visit India, including Chennai, in March next year to learn about the community college system.

Higher education

While Indian students pursued higher education in U.S, Americans visited India to learn about the education system and success in producing several graduates in engineering and maths. About 80,000 Indian students had enrolled at themselves in American educational institutions, he added. K. Alaudiapillai, former secretary to Government of Tamil Nadu, said the new entrants to workforce must be imparted vocational training for high productivity.

Quoting from a report on `India Vision 2020' , he said only five per cent of the country's labour force in the age group of 20-24 had undergone formal vocational training.

Xavier Alphonse, Director of MCRDCE, said the programme would also discuss the modalities for lateral entry into regular colleges and discuss the demand of scholarships and stipends for weaker sections. The candidates could be provided with one-third of the fees as scholarships.

The report would be presented the UGC and the Human Resource Development Ministry.

The organisation, which was upgraded to Indian Centre for Research and Development of Community Education, would be inaugurated on Friday. Nirmala Prasad, MOP College principal, also participated.