Growth of Indira Gandhi National Open University in A & N Islands

Author: 
Dr. S. Ganesan

The Port Blair Regional Centre of IGNOU is completing 13-successful years of educational service on 27th March, 2019. So far, over 45 thousand students from Andaman & Nicobar Islands have received student support services from Port Blair Regional Centre. From Mayabunder to Campbell Bay, the Regional Centre is covering almost all major islands (group of Islands) across the length and breadth of Andaman & Nicobar Islands. It is one of post-tsunami educational development in the Islands. Directly or indirectly, nearly 200 persons are involved in providing academic and administrative services to local students. The primary target group-Islanders-son of the soil got higher educational opportunities at their door-steps. The secondary target group-transferred officials from mainland-have also got the benefit of presence of Regional Centre here.
Imagine the situation, when students contacting Chennai Regional Centre for ‘information’ or ‘special permission’ etc, and the poor telephone/e-mail which adds to communication problems, some 15-years back. The establishment of Port Blair Regional Centre of IGNOU was carried out by Shri. S. Saunand the founder Regional Director of Regional Centre. During 2006-2011, he has quickly established Study Centres (LSCs) at different parts of Andaman & Nicobar Islands in short period. The challenges of founder head is always more as compare to successive head(s) of centre.
Growth in Admission:  The reach of Regional Centre is normally indicated by its admission figures. In 2006, it had 1341 students, as its starting point. The gradual increase over 13-years has reached nearly 4500 students per year and provided service to 45,000 students now. In other words, the students population in the Regional Centre has tripled in one decade period. Almost female students’ number is at par with male students’ quantity. It shows equal educational opportunity provided in Andaman & Nicobar Islands.

Increase of Sunday Face-to-Face Classes: To channelize the demand for Face-to-Face Classes at Learner Support Centres, the ‘student requirement register’ has been introduced at Regional Centre as well as Study Centres. Thereby, a student can convey his/her demand for class on certain specific subject area on Sundays.  It also facilitated the Study Centres to communicate the needy students about Sunday Classes well-in-time. It improved the communication path between students and Study Centres with special reference to face-to-face academic counseling classes, on Sundays. The Regional Centre also uses to send SMS to the students for Sunday classes.

Home Based Tutorial through GyanDarshan-2 TV Channel: With the help of Andaman Cable Network, (the biggest cable operator of Andaman & Nicobar Islands), the Gyandarshan-2 TV Channel is provided to all cable users at free-of-cost. The educational TV channel of India-Gyan Darshan -2 provides live interactive Tele-class for IGNOU students during 3-5 pm almost daily. Students can watch the satellite TV class at home itself-and interact academically with his/her teacher through telephone call. It is a 2 –way (Audio) interactive TV live show for IGNOU students (over two lakh population have been using cable connection in Andaman & Nicobar Islands). The Regional Centre is also organizing Gyan Darshan-classes at its office for the benefit of students. It facilitates peer-group interaction also.
Development IGNOU campus: To increase the activities, with proper infrastructure facilities, the Regional Centre has started construction of IGNOU own campus at Port Blair. The 2000 Sq.mts land, near AIR Cargo Complex gate (way to helipad), is getting ready for Regional Centre own building. The construction of compound wall has been completed, as of now.
Expansion of Network:  The entire Andaman & Nicobar Islands had only one Learner Support Centre/Study Centre that is, JNRM College, Port Blair since 1990. After the establishment of Regional Centre, Port Blair the network of Learner Support Centres expanded randomly and covered South corner of Islands also (Campbell Bay). Similarly the north side also got expansion at MG Govt. College, Mayabunder to reach the unreached sectors. From one Learner Support Center to 12 Learner Support Centres in the region facilitates for quality Student Support Service for Islanders of almost all geographical locations. One Special Study Centre at Prothrapur Jail, exclusively for Jail inmates, provides higher education at free-of-cost. It is planned to have more Learner Support Centres at Port Blair to meet the growing number of students. The Andaman College, Law College, Kendriya Vidyala-1, Dr.B.R. Ambedkar Govt. Polytechnic-Diglipur are in the expansion plan of Regional Centre.

Placement Activity: The Andaman & Nicobar Islands has IGNOU students of Master of Arts in Translation Studies, Post Graduate Diploma in Journalism and Mass Communication, Master of Arts in English/Hindi which have potential opportunities in print media here. The contact details of such group have been circulated among news paper editors to use the services of IGNOU students as freelance writers/trainee. Similarly, the Bachelor of Social Work/Master of Social Work students have been linked to Nehru Yuva Kendra for volunteer service, with some nominal payment. Our B.Sc students have been motivated to join green initiative scheme of Zoological Survey of India.

Growth in Academic Resource Persons: Identifying the right persons to teach our IGNOU students is one of the regular activities of Regional Centre. Among the visitors of Regional Center, who are suitable for empanelment, are instantly inducted into IGNOU academic services. Thereby, one or two qualified resource persons are being identified in every month. Due to this continuous on-going process, the Regional Centre is able to empanel over 150 Academic Counsellors for providing academic support services to registered learners at Learner Support Centres. Even the remote Learner Support Centres, such as Campbell Bay, have senior qualified school teachers are empanelled Academic Counsellors.

Saturday – Video - Class:  Some Island students feel that metro students get quality academic services. To remove such attitude, the Regional Centre, Port Blair has started Saturday -Video-Class from 11th November, 2017. The IGNOU provides the Audio-Video CDs as supplementary material for teaching-learning process. The high quality teaching CDs compensates the shortage of Academic Resource Persons in the Islands. The utility of Saturday -Video-Class is improving day-by-day. On an average, 3-4 students attend each Video Class at Regional Centre on Saturdays. In last 67 Saturdays, nearly 200 students have academically benefitted through Video Class.

Increase of Exam Centres:  From one Exam Centre to Seven Exam Centres in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands is one of the major achievements of Regional Center in Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Over 10,000 examinees write Term End Exam in a year at ANI. To travel from Campbell Bay to Port Blair for writing exams was a challenge for students in term of ‘time’ & ‘money’. By establishment of Exam Centres at Campbell Bay, Hut Bay, Nancowrie, Mayabunder, have facilitated the examinees to write exams at local level. That is, learn internationally-study locally.

Lieutenant Governor Commendation Award: On 26th January, 2017, the Regional Centre Port Blair received the LG Commendation Award/Certificate at Republic Day function in Port Blair. It reflects the reorganization of services rendered by IGNOU, Regional Centre, Port Blair to the population of Andaman & Nicobar Islands. The support of Andaman & Nicobar Islands administration for Regional Centre is note worthy here.

Growth in Academic Programme offered:  From single digit to marching towards three digits the Regional Centre has been growing in right direction in offering academic programmes in Andaman & Nicobar Islands. In the beginning, the B.A., B.Com, B.Sc, MA, MBA are offered through JNRM College. But over the period, the demand of students of Island has grown to specialization PG Diplomas, Certificate courses, Super- Specialization PG Degrees etc. To meet the academic demand, the Regional Directors have activated more and more academic programmes, year after the year. The MA (Psychology), MA Anthropology, Post Graduate Certificate in Gio-informatics, Post Graduate Diploma in Disaster Management, Bridge Programme –Certificate in Community Health for Nurses (BPCCHN), etc, are some of the academic programmes which are more relevant for Andaman & Nicobar Islands location. Regional Centre Port Blair takes pro-active steps to activate more new programmes in the region.
(The author is Regional Director of IGNOU, Regional Centre, Port Blair and can be reached at rcportblair@ignou.ac.in (M-8900936718}

Wednesday, 27 February, 2019