1. COMMUNITY COLLEGE SCHEME
Education plays an important role in the all-round development of human being as well as the nation. It is a unique investment in the present as well as for the future. Every country develops its own system of education to express and promote its unique socio-cultural-economic identity besides meeting the challenges of time to leverage the existing potential opportunities. India, at present, is recognized as one of the youngest nations in the world with over 50% of the population under the age of 30 years. It is estimated that by about 2025, India will have 25% of the world’s total workforce. In order to harness the full demographic dividend, India needs an educational system which is of high quality, affordable, flexible and relevant to the individuals, economy and to the society as a whole. Presently, the country faces a demand – supply mismatch, as the economy needs more ‘skilled’ workforce and also the managers and entrepreneurs than created annually.
In fact, majority of the contemporary institutions of higher learning remain almost disconnected with the requirements of the workplace. The skill oriented courses available in the market have low credibility and acceptability with the employers. The traditional higher education system in the country is also rigid in terms of duration of courses, timings for teaching-learning, place of study and choice of subjects. There is a worldwide shift from conventional educational system to competence based qualification system. With a view to make the skills acquired by the learners acceptable nationally, the curricula and system of certification should align with the National Occupational Standards. In order to facilitate offering of nationally standardized skill related programmes, the Government of India has notified the National Skills Qualifications Framework (NSQF) on 27th December 2013. It is a nationally integrated education and competency-based skill framework which provides for multiple pathways, both within vocational education and between general and vocational education, to link one level of learning to another higher level and enables learners to progress to higher levels from any starting point in the education and / or skill system. It permits individuals to accumulate their knowledge and skills and convert them, through testing and certification by the competent authorities, into higher level of certification which could be a certificate, diploma, advanced diploma, a degree or a PG diploma in common parlance.
The 12th Five Year Plan Document of the Planning Commission has also laid a special emphasis on expansion of skill-based programmes in higher education. It recommends setting up of Community Colleges (CC) to serve multiple needs including (i) career oriented education and skills to students interested in directly entering the workforce; (ii) training and education programmes for local employers; (iii) high-touch remedial education for secondary school graduates not ready to enroll in traditional colleges, giving them a path to transfer to three or four year institutions; and (iv) general interest courses to the community for personal development and interest. The Plan Document also states that Community Colleges will be located to facilitate easy access to underprivileged students and such colleges could either be established as affiliated colleges of universities or as entirely autonomous institutions.