A one-day Indo-Canadian seminar on ‘Community Colleges and Faculty Development Programme’ was organised by the Department of Public Administration, Panjab University (PU), in collaboration with University of the Fraser Valley (UFV), Canada, and Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR), North-Western Regional Centre at PU on Wednesday.
The seminar was organised in the backdrop of the central government’s decision to open 200 new community colleges in India to increase employability of its population through applied skills development.
UFV is currently working with PU to plan faculty development programs to transform practitioners into trainers for these community colleges.
“Community colleges are critical to the future of Canada, India and the world as a whole,” said Professor Mark Evered, UFV vice-chancellor (V-C) on the occasion. Emphasising that the institutions of higher learning and community colleges can help improve access of communities to higher education, Professor Evered said educated communities were healthier, wealthier, safer and more democratic.
Speaking on the occasion, PU V-C Professor Arun Kumar Grover highlighted that community colleges would play a pivotal role in improving the quality of higher education and vocational courses in higher education, as envisaged under the recently launched policy of the central government - Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA).
The two-fold objective of community colleges is to equip students with skills aligned to the job market, while providing skills to the displaced work force and promote students’ upward mobility to higher education through associate degrees.
Meanwhile, seminar co-ordinator Professor B S Ghuman informed that there were around 500 community colleges in India with a total of 1 lakh students.
“The community colleges promote inclusive education, as 91.22 per cent students in community colleges belong to economically backward groups,” said Professor Ghuman.
UT Finance Secretary, V K Singh, acknowledged the critical role of education in transforming societies and economies.
He added that the central government was re-organising, revolutionising and liberalising education in the country.
In the technical sessions held later in the day, Academic Vice-Provost, UFV, Professor Peter Geller suggested that each country should adopt a model of community colleges grounded in its economy and society, since such colleges can bring both global and local communities together.
“Community colleges have served successfully both the job market and universities in the form of sending associate degree holders to higher education in Canada. India can also adopt the Canadian model as per its job market conditions. Both countries can learn from each other,” said Professor Geller.