Open Letter January 2010

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Open Letter January 2010




    On the occasion of the New Year and the beginning of the SecondDecade in the New Millennium, let me wish you all a bright, prosperousand eventful year ahead.Our Government has declared 2010-2020 as the Decade of Innovation.

    We need to achieve inclusive and sustainable growth in education, skilldevelopment, health care, energy, agriculture and infrastructure. Newsolutions in many areas are necessary to reach such targets in expedientways. We have the largest population of young people in the world. We needto explore all possible ways and means to provide them education andemployable skills. Creating opportunities for our youth to become the largestpool of skilled and technically trained humanresource is the greatest challenge before us inthis decade. It is estimated that India has thecapacity to create 500 million certifiedtechnicians and skilled workers by 2020. Thiswould provide employment opportunities to ouryoung people and the large number of schooldrop-outs. While enhancing the Gross EnrolmentRatio in the higher education sector, as an OpenUniversity with flexible and innovativeeducational, training and skill-buildingcapabilities, we need to lay more emphasis onthese objectives of the National Skills Mission.

    The Mission, chaired by the Prime Minister,delineates the key governance principles and implementation strategies forachieving skill development across the country. The approach would be todesign learning and training modules, courses and programmes under whichthe learner can pay the skill provider directly, skills are made bankable, andindividuals are able to convert their knowledge and skills, through Testingand Certification, into diplomas, higher diplomas, associate degrees anddegrees. There is a need to promote multiple models of delivery that canrespond to the differing situations in various states, and within the statesthe varying contexts.

    While planning and implementing the skills development initiatives, thedimension of inclusivity should not be lost sight of. The planning shouldeffectively deal with gender disparity, rural and urban divides, as well asdivides between the organised and unorganised sectors, and betweentraditional home-based and work-based occupations.

    In India, there are over 2,50,000 public educational and traininginstitutions, all of which can become skill-development centres withoutaffecting the formal teaching and other activities during class hours. Thisarrangement, if properly regulated and encouraged by GovernmentDepartments, would make available a huge stock of public investment tocombine with private sector capacity to generate skills. Costs would be loweras skill providers would not have to invest in infrastructure for skills training.

    IGNOU, with its country-wide network of Regional Centres and over 2,500Study Centres, has the greatest potential in this country to address theissue of the skill deficit. These regional centres and study centres cannetwork with the local educational and training institutions for providingmodular skills in different trades and vocations. Linking with the activities ofthe local micro, small and medium enterprises and grassroot-level civilsociety organisations, skill upgradation initiatives should be taken up by thevarious units of our university. The Study Centres of different kinds, theCommunity College Centres, the two-year Associate Degree programme by acredit accumulation process, Vertically Integrated Engineering Programme,Assessment and Certification of Prior Learning and the Telecentre Movementfor Skill-upgradation, the Village Knowledge and Resource Centres and thecollaboration with the rural NGOs are the recent IGNOU interventions in theskill-development sector. Coordinated and focused activities of the Schools,Centres and our large network of different Study Centres can reallycontribute to the National Skills Mission.

    Let us all put our efforts in this much-needed activity, in addition to ourregular activities of teaching and research. Let this be IGNOUs contribution tothe Decade of Innovation. While concluding, let me quote here Smt. IndiraGandhi: Have a bias towards action let us see something happen now. Youcan break that big plan into small steps and take the first step right away.

    V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai



    Back to School

    Shoring Up

    IN FOCUS: Academicsfrom Sri Lankas

    National Institute ofEducation (NIE)

    attended a 10-dayworkshop at IGNOU fortraining in formulation

    of educational curriculum

    NEWS UPDATES ..........06

    PASSING BY ................11



    MILESTONES ...............16

    GYAN DARSHAN ..........16

    4 SPOTLIGHT: IGNOU and the M.S. SwaminathanResearch Foundation (MSSRF) team up to start acollege for coastal communities at tsunami-hitPoompuhar

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    The Centre ofExcellence

    will start academic

    programmesin the fields

    of socialwork and

    other North-

    Eastern affairs

    Community college in Nagaland

    IGNOU is all set to start a Community College inChuchuiymlang village ofMokokchung district, Nagaland.The college will impart life andteaching skills to people in thearea.

    The Community Collegewould begin with a Masters inSocial Work (MSW) programme.Other vocational programmeswill be started gradually.

    The land required for the

    proposed Community College,also envisioned as an IGNOUCentre of Excellence, has beenallotted to the University free ofcost by the villagers, under theaegis of the Nagaland GandhiAshram (NGA).

    Dr Jayashree Kurup, deputydirector for EducationalDevelopment of North-EastRegion Unit (EDNERU), said thedecision to set up the Centre ispart of the Universitys Silver

    Jubilee Year celebrations.Dr Kurup said life-skills

    education will empower thevillagers and increase theirchances for a better livelihood.

    The Centre of Excellence willstart academic programmes inthe fields of social work,agricultural extension,infrastructure development,preservation of indigenous artsand crafts, tribal studies andother North-Eastern affairs.

    IGNOU and the United NationsEducational Scientific and CulturalOrganisation (UNESCO) have signed an agreement of cooperation (AoC) to identify programmes and activities of the Open University for co-branding and strategic cooperation, throughacademic collaboration and exchange, to advance quality education andtraining.

    Irina G. Bokova, Director General,UNESCO, who delivered the IGNOU SilverJubilee Special Lecture on BuildingInclusive Knowledge Societies in aGlobalised World: Opportunities andRisks, at the Universitys campus in New

    Delhi on January 11, signed theagreement with Vice Chancellor Prof. V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai.

    The function was presided over by D.Purandeswari, Union Minister of State forHuman Resource Development.

    Dr Jayashree Kurup, Deputy Director, EDNERU (ninth from right, standing); T.N. Mannen, Retd Additional ChiefSecretary, Nagaland (seventh from left, standing), Nagaland Gandhi Ashram (NGA) founder secretary Natwar Thakkar(fourth from left, standing); Dr Sudheer Reddy, chief project officer, IGNOU, (fifth from left, standing) and Prof R.R.Singh (fifth from right, sitting), former head, sociology department, Delhi University, with villagers at the site of theproposed college in Chuchuiymlang village.

    Irina G. Bokova, Director General, UNESCO, and Union Minister of State for HumanResource Development, D. Purandeswari, at the event.

    UNESCO, IGNOUjoin hands


    INFOCUS Give a man a fish and you feed him for aday. Teach him how to fish and you feedhim for a lifetime. Lao Tzu

    The fishermen of Poompuhar avillage 350 km from Chennai onthe Coromandel Coast surelyknow how to fish. They have beendoing that for generations. It is in theirDNA. What they are not so good at,however, is converting their back-breakinglabour and traditional knowledge intosomething more substantial increasingtheir income, ensuring food security, orenhancing their skills to cope with naturaldisasters. They are also not so adept atmanaging their marine and terrestrialresources in a sustainable manner.

    All this was starkly brought home aftera tsunami hit the coast of Tamil Nadu onDecember 26, 2004. It not only destroyedlives but also the fishing communitystools of livelihood particularly thecatamarans in which they go fishing.

    It is in this context that IGNOU and theM.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation(MSSRF) stepped in to provide somesustainable solutions. The two institutionsdecided to implement an integrated actionprogramme that would enable the coastalcommunity to not only upgrade skill-sets

    but also provide them long-term andsustainable livelihood options.

    The aim: To integrate the training and capacity-building for disasterpreparedness with sustainablemanagement of natural resources fordeveloping income-generating livelihoods.

    This training and capacity building wasto be applied in the marine, coastalagriculture and other sectors in production of biological software for eco-agriculture; restoration of degraded land,water bodies, forests; and ruralinfrastructure.

    This required knowledge andtechnological empowerment of ruralcommunities through a pedagogic systemof learning by doing. The knowledgeempowerment is done by providing locale-specific, demand-driven information to thecommunities through the use of theInternet, print media and mobile phones.

    As a first step, MSSRF built its Rs. 2.7 crore Fish for All Research andTraining Centre at Poompuhar on a two-acre plot. The Centre includes facilitieslike cold rooms, ice plants, fish pre-processing halls, research lab, traininghall, dormitory, and a resource centre thatwould provide information on climate,height of sea waves, potential fishing

    IGNOU and the M.S. SwaminathanResearch Foundation(MSSRF) teamup to startFish for All Research andTraining Centre attsunami-hitPoompuhar

    Shoring Up

    The community college in Poompuhar willtrain fishermen on the use of mobiletechnology, scientific data and market-relatedinformation to cut down operational costswhile increasing income realisation.


    zones and other market-related data. In order to impart work-integrated

    learning to the coastal communities,MSSRF tied up with IGNOU to conductshort-term certified courses as part of theuniversitys community colleges initiative.A three-month programme was soondeveloped by the IGNOU-MSSRF Collegesfor the coastal communities. The first ofthese colleges was opened in Poompuharon December 26, 2009, the fifthanniversary of the tsunami.

    We are the knowledge partners ofMSSRF. We will be setting up colleges forrural communities in different locations.The Poompuhar college is the first one tobe launched, said Prof V.N. RajasekharanPillai, Vice Chancellor, IGNOU.

    IGNOU and MSSRF have also plannedto set up colleges for coastal communitiesin Jeypore in Orissa, Kalpetta in Keralaand Puducherry.

    The attemptis to develop aclimate-resilientcoastalcommunity withknowledge andskills necessaryto overcome theadverse impactof tsunamis andrise in sea level,Prof Pillaiobserved. Thecollege,functioning outof MSSRFscentre inPoompuhar, willtrain fishermen in the use of mobiletechnology, scientific data and market-related information to reduce operationalcosts while increasing their income.

    At the MSSRF fish processing centre,fishermen will be trained on reading datalike the height of sea waves, potentialfishing zones and the fish prices indifferent markets that are flashed on theirmobile phones. The Indian National Centrefor Ocean Information Services (INCOIS),under the Ministry of Earth Sciences,forecast sea wave heights and also thezones of fish agglomeration. Theseforecasts will be transmitted by MSSRF,by tying-up with mobile telephonecompanies, to the fishermen in real time.

    Commercial information as to theprice of fish varieties in different marketscan also be transmitted to the fishermenso that they can land their catch in themarkets where there is the maximumdemand for their catch, added Pillai.

    The fisherwomen are the ones who areengaged in the activity of handling the

    fish, once the catch reaches the shore handling, sorting, cleaning, and evenmarketing. Optimal handling of the dayscatch, from the time it is caught to thetime it is consumed, is important for notonly maintaining hygiene but alsominimising wastage for better pricerealisation.

    With that in view, IGNOU will beoffering a short-term course for women atPoompuhar on hygienic handling of thecatch so as to prevent spoilage andcontamination by pathogenic organisms.

    The courses are designed to preparethe coastal communities to becomecapable of converting the challenges ofunexpected rise of sea level and extremenatural events like floods, droughts,cyclones, etc., into opportunities forsaving lives and livelihoods.

    Therefore, the college has earmarked animportant role for the women in the fishing

    communities.The women willbe trained for aweek at thecentre thatconforms toHACCP (HazardAnalysis andCritical ControlPoints)standards,therebyincreasing theirchances offinding a job atfull-fledgedprocessingplants, said the

    projects principal coordinator Sanjeevi Raj. This is especially apt, since the Tamil

    Nadu government has decided to build amini-harbour in Poompuhar and a privategroup is reported to be setting-up ashrimp unit. Enhancing the skills of thefisherwomen will only increase theiremployment potential. I hope the trainingwill help me increase my skill levels and,boost my familys total income, said K. Saroja, a trainee at the college.

    Though fisherwomen traditionally domost of the pre-processing activities athome, they still find the training a novelexperience (see box on profiles offisherwomen). Apart from these courses,IGNOU will also offer training on fish,prawn and crab farming in an integratedmanner that would stress the importanceof sea-land interface (see box on courses).

    For trainees keen on entrepreneurship,the IGNOU certificate will assist in gettingloans for setting up businesses, saidSenthilkumaran, Director, Information,Education and Communication, MSSRF.


    The courses are grouped under twobroad categories. A. For Marine fisheriesCourse 1. Fisher-Friendly Mobile ApplicationCourse 2. Hygienic Handling of Fishand Other Marine Food MaterialsB. Sea-Land InterfaceCourse 3. Sea-farming of fish,prawns, and crabs toget...