Higher Education

Higher Education

IGNOU courses: Increase in the number of rural students

PUBLISH DATE 26th November 2018

The last three academic sessions of the Indira Gandhi National Open University’s Pune division have seen an increase in the number of rural students — from 113 (2%) in July 2017 to 1,017 (23%) in this July.

The number of urban students has decreased from 4,682 (98%) in July 2017 to 3,387 students (76%) in July 2018.

“The best part is that our numbers in rural areas are increasing. In rural areas, women and other disadvantaged category has always been our focus. There are so many villages where even a secondary school is miles away. For these children we have our bridge course. Other than that we give free education to SC, ST, jail inmates, etc,” Masood Parvez, regional director at IGNOU Pune division, said.

Last year, IGNOU admitted its first transgender student who is also a commercial sex worker. In January 2019, it plans to open the first study centre in Yerawada jail Assistant director S Saunand said, “She (the transgender student) had left school early. We told her to do our bridge course, which is for students who could not complete their standard XII. This year, she has taken admission in our Bachelor of Arts programme. We are working with NGOs to reach out to more students.”

IGNOU has study centres in Nashik, Aurangabad and Kolhapur jails. “We have been in talks with the Yerawada Central Jail officials and the modalities are being worked out. From January 2019, we will have a study centre here,” Saunand said, adding that at present the highest turnout is in Nashik jail followed by Kolhapur and then Aurangabad.

“Students there have limitations as they cannot opt for courses with field work or practicals. Hence, only theoretical courses are offered there and most students opt for courses like human rights, law,” Saunand said.

The biggest problem the students face is in the delivery of study material. “I am studying my Master’s in history. In the first year, I got the material very late and even this year I just received half of my study material,” a student said.

A creative writing student said, “I left formal education after my bachelor’s degree 15 years ago. I am heading a company’s production division but I needed to improve my writing skills. I took up a diploma course from IGNOU. Now, I am attending weekend classes and it is like being back in college for those two-three days,”

The varsity has to deal with lack of material in the local languages. “Rural and tribal population finds it easier to understand educational material in Marathi,” Parvez added.

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