V N Rajasekharan Pillai, Vice Chancellor, IGNOU, India

Filed under: October2008 |
Interview : Prof V N Rajasekharan Pillai, VC, IGNOU, India


Name: Prof V N Rajasekharan Pillai
Publish Date: 06 October 2008

Country: India


Prof. Pillai, could you please share with the readers of the i4d magazine some information about the new Certificate Programme on Community Radio that has been launched? Is there a plan to launch this programme all across the country? 
Prof V N Rajasekharan Pillai is Vice-Chancellor, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), New Delhi. During his career spanning 37 years, Prof Pillai has held leadership posts with University Grants Commission (UGC) and National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC). An active teacher and researcher in the field of Chemical Sciences, Prof Rajasekharan holds an international patent for the gram-scale preparation of biologically important peptides. In this interview, Prof Rajasekharan Pillai informs the readers of i4d about a new Certificate Programme on Community Radio by IGNOU, New Delhi, which was launched in September 2008.

Yes, we have planned to launch this programme not only across the country but also outside the country. For example, we would like to launch this programme in the Commonwealth region in the immediate future. Its a first of its kind programme in Asia and the very fact that it is supported by CEMCA, which was originally a part of IGNOU and now a part of the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) are also supporting this particular activity. The entire content of the programme was created with an eye on the developmental priorities of the entire Asia-Pacific region and also the Commonwealth. Therefore, we would definitely like to launch this programme  in all our languages.

How soon will that happen?

This programme will be launched in other major languages within the next few months. To give you an example, we are planning to launch it in Bengali, a language that will help us cater to the CR practitioners in Bangladesh. Another possibility which we see is that, a large number of educational institutions are being promoted for taking up Community Radio or Campus Radio. This means, boys and girls who are studying in colleges can simultaneously take up this particular programme, which is a certificate programme which can  be developed into a Diploma and finally into a Degree course even. And then, a college which is having this facility, can interact with the community. And a person who has not gone to a college, who is not enrolled in higher education, is a performing artist or a local musician, can work as anchors and can also register for this particular programme.

Just to get a further clarification, we learnt that the minimum qualification to apply for this programme is 10+2. Does it mean that the course modules are softened enough to take that into consideration?

That’s right, it is intended for the 10+2 students but we will definitely be administering this module in the local parlance, in regional languages as well as the way in which they receive this particular programme. And we will also think about people who do not have the minimum qualification, but if they are talented in other art forms. We will give them a sort of  a ‘bridge course’ and make them eligible for this programme and bring them into its folds. So, in this respect, we are looking at the objectives of the University system also.  Firstly, we are giving them the capacity for development of the community. And secondly, we are bringing them into the folds of the higher education system.

This is interesting because one of the question I wanted to ask you was regarding the school drop-outs. There are many individuals who are talented, but are not able to face the competitive exams of the Boards, and we see that the 10+2 eligibility criteria may be a little too high for a rural drop-out to meet.

We are definitely looking at the issue as we have the Bachelors Preparatory Programme (BPP) under which, if a person has not passed his 10+2, he has to undergo a certain programme which will make him eligible for the certificate course. In such cases, I am confident that the University will be able to make an exemption for those who are talented otherwise, to undergo this particular course.

“A Bengali version of this programme will be launched soon which will allow us to cater to practitioners in Bangladesh   

Would you be publicising this programme in all local newspapers including the very small newspapers?

Yes, we have to do it and we will publish it in all local newspapers and will send this communication to the villages through different channels. This week, we will probably have another programme of the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation on Rural Development, we plan to mention about our course during that conference too.

When we are looking at delivering this module over a six months period, do we expect that there will be some linkages that you will make with people who have received licenses or people who are working in this sector?

Yes, actually they will be experts, for example, we have given case studies of successful community radios that means they have the systems in place, so we will be taking them on as experts. And our study centres will probably be such organisations who have the facilities. And people who are making use of media for development, their expertise will also be made use of.

And we have  requested to the government to make it a condition that all licensees as of now should give internships for this programme. This is the first of its kind programme in Asia and we are very confident about it. Only thing, as you mentioned, is that we have to give the right kind of publicity to the real clientèle.