About 5% of the working population has some form of education certificate — compared to 90% to 95% in developed countries.
Professor V N Rajshekharan Pillai, Vice Chancellor of India's Indira Gandhi National Open University, discusses the challenges of leading the world's largest education institution.
Rapid growth at IGNOU
The growth at India's Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) has mirrored the rapid economic expansion of its home country.
IGNOU is the center for learning in India. "We have the largest repository of educational materials, resulting from the collaboration of tens of thousands of academics and scientists in this country," explains Professor V N Rajshekharan Pillai, Vice Chancellor of India's Indira Gandhi National Open University.
Their numbers are large, and growing.
- Over four million students
- 21 individual schools offering degree programs in arts, science, commerce, social sciences and information technology
- 43 Regional Centers
- Six Sub-Regional Centers
- 1,400 Study Centers
Blending technology with good teaching
Pillai is focused on increasing technology in the classroom and digitizing learning materials, but knows that this transition isn't about replacing good teachers with good technology.
"The synergy between them that can further avert the so-called 'digital divide' can empower everyone simultaneously," he says.
Good teachers and technology may improve India's workforce. About 5% of the working population has some form of education certificate — compared to 90% to 95% in developed countries.
Digital helps expansion
India's government has several initiatives for increasing education.
For example, the National Knowledge Network is a current leading multi-gigabit pan-India network for providing a unified high speed network and, according to Professor Pillai, is the "backbone for all knowledge-related institutions in the country."
Other efforts include:
- Encouraging work-related learning, such as apprenticeships or internships
- Introduction of the Right to Education Act, which enshrined into law the free and compulsory education of children between the ages of six and 14
- Lowering the dropout rate
Pillai is optimistic about education in India. "The people in this country want skills. They are coming to the university with expectation. That means we have to fulfill our responsibility and deal with large numbers."
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