Higher Education in A & N Islands

Dr. S. Ganesan Regional Director, IGNOU

Development of any country depends mainly on human resources and social factors (64%) followed by its natural resources (20%), infrastructure (16%) and so on. The A & N Islands has high literacy rate (86%) as well as gross enrolment ratio. Due to the same, the demand for college education is increasing day-by-day. Obviously, the common education structure 10+2+3 normally targets at degree colleges, (first degree or UG level), as compared to professional /technical courses.
It is a common phenomena to have more number of schools and comparatively less colleges in a region. This broad base (top-up) triangle model of educational institutional set-up is applicable for A & N Islands also. The number of schools decreases as the level of education increases.
      3 Degree

                                                      60 Sr.Sec.Schools

The Andaman & Nicobar Islands presently has two universities: namely, Pondicherry University Campus and Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) Regional Centre at Port Blair. Everyone here is expecting a new full fledged local university for A & N Islands. The potential teachers for the new university, from existing colleges- JNRM, ANCOL, M.G.Govt. College, Mayabunder- are not much. Presently, the college teachers with Post-Doctoral Fellow, Ph.D., M.Phil., NET-JRF, inter-disciplinary research experiences are less (nearly 30%) in number. The academic exposure of college teachers are also minimum as compared to their counterparts in main land. It is high time for the college teachers to equip themselves to become university professors. The academic performance and capacity building as per UGC guidelines expects a high standards from faculty members. To match the standards, college teacher needs upgradation to get into university system. This aspect is one of the indicator of level of college teachers.

Under different terminology, the colleges get faculty members such as guest/contract/regular faculty or resource persons etc. But for a student, all are equally teachers without any difference. In A & N Islands, the school teachers get adequate exposure of working at various parts of A & N Islands due to routine transfers; whereas, such opportunities are not existing for many college teachers. Working in same institute, at same place of posting -from day one to retirement day - may not give sufficient varieties of capacity building experiences to a college teacher.



                                    ANCOL                             MGGC

The sharing of academic resources, especially, the human resources (academics) among the colleges of A & N Islands needs due consideration. It will change the situation of educationally deprived colleges and equalize the academic standards and quality maintenance in the region. A simple migration from one college to other, for 2-3 years, is one of the model to develop capacity building for academics. The geographical parameters of working place removes the long-term monopoly/stagnant behavior of a person. Due to the systematic inter-college transfers, the remote place/rural college such as M.G. Govt. College, Mayabunder students may also able to get equal opportunity and facility of quality higher education in the region. The proximity of 2-colleges well within Port Blair city is a debatable matter. We all know that Port Blair has high concentration of population; but at the same time, the over 1000 kms long A & N Islands needs spread of colleges geographically too.
A simple comparison of Under Graduate courses offered in degree colleges of A & N Islands shows the duplication of UG courses. Is there (real) high demand for admission to offer same course in all the 3 degree colleges or more than one college in A & N Island? A deep analysis of admission data in such courses can be done to check the academic situation, as on date. Time-to-time, the periodical review of academic demands at each college may give scope for academic inter-change of courses within the region.
Higher Education Institutes in A & N Islands
Industrial Training Institute (2)
Degree College ( 3)
B.Ed College
Nursing School
ANM/HW School
Marine Biology
Disaster Management
Andaman Law College

      ANCOL       JNRM

BA-Economics, B.Com

Every year +2 pass-outs quantum exceeds the intake capacity in UG courses in entire A & N Islands. You all know this fact very well. The combined total seats in UG courses in 3-degree colleges is just able to meet only 25-30% of school pass-out population every year. What are the other possible educational opportunities for islanders to go for higher education? The 10-more higher education institutes in ANI shares some part of school pass-outs.  Some of the school pass-outs even wait for next year to get college admission (like fisherman waiting for fish). The admission applications rejected are more than double the in-take capacity of colleges. The ratio is 3:1 in recent years. The quantum of rejection is increasing year after the year. Few parents are able to send their wards to mainland for college education. The mismatch of demand and supply leads to deprive educational opportunity of needy population. Most of the island students prefer local education and prefer to live within Islands. Due to this, even the unlimited seats in mainland colleges may not be attractive to them.

The medium of study at school level has many varieties, such as: Hindi, English, Bengali, Telugu, and Tamil. But, most of the college courses are offered in English medium only. (However, accepts exam answers in Hindi languages also.)  This mismatch plays a vital role in college drop-outs and success-rate in college; especially in arts subjects as compared to commerce or science.  The over-load at college hostels (especially for girls) is a challenge for college administration. The financial assistance of few thousands to economically weak students is another challenge to balance the expenses. Nearly 1/4th students receive financial assistance under various schemes. On an average nearly 20% students are only able to progress from UG to PG in our colleges. The share of female students is high as compared to male students in colleges (M:F= 40:60).
One of the alternative for the parents is to look for distance education providers, in A & N Islands. By exceeding the jurisdiction of the university, few distance education directorates /institutes after courses in A & N Islands. Its after-effects are felt by              A & N Islands students while applying for further education or government jobs. The operational area (jurisdiction) of every university is mentioned at their official website or prospectus or official documents. Parents and students must be careful in choosing the Distance Education directorates for their UG/PG degree qualification.
The presence of IGNOU here provides educational opportunity for approximately 20-25% of school pass-outs every year. A major chunk of over 1000 admissions takes place in BA, B.Com, B.Sc degree itself. It indicates the significant role of IGNOU in A & N Islands. However, the educational benefit to son-of–the-soil (islanders), by IGNOU, needs a deep research. Because, a sizable floating population from central govt. department personnels, their wards/family members (temporary migrants) enroll in IGNOU academic programmes. Already educationally privileged groups get the benefit of IGNOU in A & N Islands also; whereas the son-of-the -soil are able to use IGNOU (for their higher education) to a minimum level only. Why it so? Is it real or imagination? To get answers for good questions, we need to do deep research on the impact of IGNOU for islanders. However, the naked eye shows us the under-utilization of National Open University for Island population. Let the educational policy makers open IGNOU centres in all higher educational institutes of A & N Islands (leaving none) to maximize its utility and help to reach the unreached Islanders.

(The author is Dr. S. Ganesan, Regional Director of IGNOU, Regional Centre, Port Blair and can be reached at rcportblair@ignou.ac.in) (M-8900936718)

Wednesday, 29 August, 2018