President calls on Govt., varsities to work together 

President Pratibha Patil laying the foundation stone for IGNOU sothern campus in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Speaker G. Kathikeyan, A.Sampath MP, IGNOU VC V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai are also seen in the picture. Photo: C. Ratheesh Kumar   | Photo Credit: C_RATHEESH KUMAR

President Pratibha Devisingh Patil on Wednesday called on the Government and universities to work closely on socially relevant issues and to reach out to a broad segment of society.

Laying the foundation stone for the Southern Regional Campus of Indira Gandhi National Open University here, the President said the country should cater to the educational requirements of its predominantly young population. After universalisation of primary education, it was time to work towards universalisation of secondary education as well. “However, our ultimate aim is to increase the enrollment ratio of people receiving higher education. We need to expand our education infrastructure. This, undoubtedly, will include the formal education system, but we would even need to reach out to those who wish to seek higher education but are unable, due to a variety of reasons, to avail of options in the formal education sector,” she said.

This category consisted of a wide range of people from rural and tribal areas, disability groups, jails and rehabilitation centres, Government and non-Governmental Organisations, parents, home-makers and also employers and employees. All want to better their avenues for growth and to do it in a manner that is suitable to their specific circumstances, the President said.

Complimenting the IGNOU for flexibility in its approach in catering to wide sections of the population, the President wanted universities to promote skill development in addition to providing educational facilities. “The link between learning and livelihood is important. Distance learning, therefore, must give weightage to enhancing knowledge that gives practical and necessary know-how for livelihood opportunities,” she said.

She said distance education offered a great opportunity to those already in employment to upgrade their knowledge base so that they could effectively contribute to increasing the production levels of their respective organisations. Studying while in employment also offered opportunities to enhance their career. Pointing out that only 5 per cent of India’s workforce had some kind of certification, the President called for a system that would address the problem. “This is important for creating proper skilled workforce in the country and to help them get better remuneration,” she added.

The President highlighted the close links between distance education and technology and how universities, including IGNOU, were leveraging the advances in communication technology by providing access to education through online programmes. “Online connectivity is a convenient means to provide education materials to students in a timely manner. Distance Education can even serve the national development agenda by reaching out to farmers and health workers to provide them information that is relevant for them. There is need for Government and Universities to act in concert to work on socially relevant issues and to reach out to a broad segment of society,” she observed.

The President said that regional centres of IGNOU, by coming close to the community they served, can now structure courses that take into account local requirements. Kerala’s tourism, IT and biotechnology, plantation, agriculture and other traditional industrial sectors can benefit greatly from such centres that would bring in the technology and knowledge inputs.

Ms. Patil called for an education system that should look at the holistic development of the youth. “Education is about knowledge. It pushes the frontiers of knowledge. It should be the aim of the youth to become intellectually competent and technically skilled. Knowledge without value is however incomplete. Education without values is like a flower without fragrance. Education should impart values to the youth that makes them sensitive to fellow human beings and the environs around them.

“It is a value system that can prepare the younger generation to become responsible citizens. Values provide an anchor in life, as well as the ability to take decisions, however difficult. They make one strong and capable of withstanding the trials and tribulations of life. Also, if students were equipped with the right value base, along with the capabilities created by science and technology, they will serve society with devotion and commitment, creating prosperity and happiness,” she said.

The Southern Regional Campus is coming up in a 25 acre plot at Vithura, some 20 km from the State Capital and would cover the four southern States. The new building is expected to be ready in 24 months. Steps to set up the campus was initiated during the previous LDF Government’s tenure, but the pace quickened with Chief Minister Oommen Chandy taking a personal interest coming up with a quick cabinet decision to allot the required land.

Mr. Chandy, in his address, hoped that the work on the institute would be completed with the same speed with which the decision to allot land was made. He expressed the hope that Vithura would soon become the hub of higher education with the IGNOU centre, the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology and the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research being located here. He wanted the three institutes to come together in setting up an international convention centre and promised the State Government’s support in this regard.

Assembly Speaker G. Karthikeyan, who represents the Assembly constituency Aruvikkara, where the new campus is coming up and A. Sampath, who represents the area in Parliament, offered felicitations. IGNOU Vice-chancellor V.N. Rajasekhara Pillai welcomed the gathering and Pro Vice-Chancellor Latha Pillai proposed a vote of thanks.

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Printable version | Aug 6, 2021 9:23:59 AM |

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