A giant step towards Bridging the Rural- Urban Divide
New Delhi, Srei Sahaj e-Village Limited, a subsidiary of Srei Infrastructure Finance Limited, has partnered with Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), the largest Open University offering distance learning programmes, today to deliver international quality education at affordable costs to the rural population of India through 27,000 Common Service Centres (CSCs) that Sahaj is setting up in the states of West Bengal, Bihar, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, and Jammu & Kashmir.
This prestigious partnership is aimed at making higher education available to the villagers in their own villages thus bridging the massive rural-urban educational gap. An estimated 100 million rural youth population across the country stands to benefit through the Sahaj-IGNOU partnership.
Srei Sahaj-IGNOU will jointly develop new certificated programmes especially designed for the rural youth, providing training in a blended learning environment to enable students to undertake a range of internationally recognized qualifications.
All courses will be accredited to IGNOU for its use. Srei Sahaj will administer the programmes including enrolments, registration, fee collection, evaluation and do the certification online or manually (by IGNOU directly).
Currently there is a yawning gender gap in the educational status of boys and girls and more so amongst the disadvantaged castes and tribes. Cultural, social and economic factors still prevent girls and SC/ST youth from getting educational opportunities. The net enrollment ratio of the rural youth stands at a mere 7.48 percent for boys and 4.5% for girls, remarkably lower than 17.84% and 16.9% respectively for urban boys and girls.
The Srei Sahaj – IGNOU partnership will help bridge this gigantic educational barrier within the rural landscape. With the use of modern ICT platform of Sahaj available at 12,000 Gram Panchayat units, the prestigious IGNOU higher education will be made available to the rural youth in digital format at the Sahaj Common Service Centers (CSCs). The rural youth would have unprecedented opportunities to acquire IGNOU’s internationally recognized certification, diplomas, degrees right in their village within a distance of 3 kilometers of their homes at ICT backed, computerized Sahaj CSCs. By the end of 2008-09, Srei Sahaj-IGNOU promises to make
this on-line university available at 27,255 CSCs in the states of Assam, Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
The education gap cannot be bridged by merely building more universities, as it would mean acquiring land and putting together the necessary infrastructure for thousands and thousands of new universities to cater to the 150 million college-age rural youth. On-line Universities, which do not require physical infrastructure, have facilitated greater accessibility to education world over. This is especially true for kinds of courses designed to cater to the needs of students who do not
have financial backup or family support. The Sahaj-IGNOU tie up aimed at re-engineering higher education will bring in great advantage to women and those who cannot afford to travel and live in the cities for education.
Commenting on the collaboration, Hemant Kanoria, Chairman & Managing Director, Srei said "As acquiring higher degrees is directly related to greater socio-economic status, this is a powerful step towards making the growth and development of India broad-based and accessible by the hitherto, remote, marginalized and disadvantaged communities."
Elaborating on the partnership, Dr Sabahat Azim, CEO, Srei-Sahaj said, "This is historic step to bridge the educational gap between Rural and Urban India. Now parents who for their own socio-economic reasons were diffident about sending their wards to pursue higher education can now rest easy. Girls who could not pursue higher education can do so from their own villages. In the next three months this partnership would be operationalised and with that I believe we would set up a landmark in the area of Public-Private Partnership model to meet pressing social needs. Soon we will extend these centres to all common service centre across India by partnering with other Service Center Agencies under the National e-Governance Plan of DIT, Government of India."