IGNOU Holds Its 22nd Convocation

NEW DELHI, April 2: The world largest university Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) has awarded 44,926 Bachelor’s degree, 20,755 Master’s degree, 59,042 Diplomas, 90,618 Certificates and three PhD’s today at the 22nd Convocation held at its Convention Centre here in Maidan Garhi.

Union Minister for Human Resource and Development Kapil Sibal was the chief guest during the ceremony in which he delivered the convocation address in a teleconference mode focused on increasing the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education which is presently hovering at a mere 13 percent, a whole 10 percent below the world average.

“I am setting sights to raise it to the global average by 2020, which by then will be around 30 percent. It will mean that the enrolment should expand to 40-45 million from the mere 13 million today,” the Minister said.

The convocation ceremony was attended by more than 10,000 students across the country to whom guest of honor Prof. PT Manoharan, eminent scientist, former Vice Chancellor and Raja Ramana Fellow, gave an impressive speech to the gathering.

Prof. Monoharan emphasized on the importance of science education and distributed the gold medals and other awards.

The Vice Chancellor of IGNOU, Prof. VN Rajasekharan Pillai harped upon the initiatives taken by the university to promote the GER and said, “120 districts were identified with the GER between 3.0 and 7.0 (excluding 8 districts having no higher education set-up) where IGNOU can tap the prospective learners in the age group of 18-23 years. Both enrolment of fresh learners by IGNOU and retention of learners in the IGNOU system are being addressed to.”

“The ‘new’ demand for higher education in India has mainly come from two groups that traditionally did not access higher education: a ‘rising’ lower middle class and women. The answer for them lies in distance education which is becoming increasingly popular as economic forces encourages, and new technologies facilitate, its spread. We are thus targeting an enrolment of at least 7 million students with a majority from the disadvantaged sections and locations, during the next five years,” said the chief guest during his address.

The chief guest further commented on the role of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) especially in distance education both in terms of capabilities and cost.

“Distance education requires use of technology. Today, we have technology to stimulate laboratory experiments; we have the technology to create virtual labs to allow our young students to obtain hands-on experience for technical training and skill development. We need to invest much more in these technologies and develop new teaching methodologies which will enable us access to complex education resources for enhancing excellence in the field of distance education,” he added.

IGNOU vice chancellor Pillai added that “IGNOU has a key role in creating 500 million certified technicians and skilled workers by 2020. In this context, 2010-2020 has been declared as the ‘Decade of Innovation’ by the government. IGNOU could play an important role in this initiative as its regional and study centers can network with local educational and training institutions for providing modular skills in different trades and vocations.

Linking with the activities of the local micro, small and medium enterprises and grass roots level society organizations, skill upgradation initiatives are being taken by up the community college centers, through the two-year associate degree program by a credit accumulation process,” he informed.

The convocation ceremony also awarded students with the Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam cash award of Rs. 10,000 for the Gold Medalist in Bachelor in Social Work, CEMCA (Commonwealth Educational Media Centre for Asia) cash award of Rs. 10,000 for the Best Female student in the program related to Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Prof. Ram Reddy Memorial Medal for highest aggregate marks in master’s degree program in Social Science subjects and Prof. Grover cash award for the best among the differently-abled meritorious students.

There were also categories for the best service award for regional centers and overseas partner institutions. Best and second best research paper awards were also given to the students. IGNOU has also been unwavering in its commitment on access to education and equity in opportunities to women, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, the rural population, remote areas, tribal regions, the differently-abled and the socially and economically weaker sections of the society. The student enrolment in IGNOU has doubled in the past four years – from 1.5 million to over 3 million, prompting the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to declare it the largest, most diverse and inclusive institution of higher learning in the world in 2010. “The increase in the number of Regional Centers and Study Centers during the past has helped IGNOU reach out to places where conventional education was infeasible,” said Dr Latha Pillai, Pro-Vice Chancellor, IGNOU.

(Courtesy: Bruce K. Thangkhal, Sangai Express)

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