Role of Open and Distance Learning in Agriculture Education in India

Role of Open and Distance Learning in Agriculture Education in India

Mohinder Kumar Salooja (Indira Gandhi National Open University, India) and Vijayakumar P. (Indira Gandhi National Open University, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2624-7.ch011


The Open and Distance Learning (ODL) can be an effective and cost effective tool to reach the masses in imparting the required skills and technical proficiency. The conventional Agricultural education system has not utilized the potential of ODL in a big way for extending the reach of agriculture education and capacity building activities. Some of the challenges in ODL system include: identifying the right type and level of programme, selecting the appropriate pedagogy model, covering of large and diverse clientele group, popularization and recognition of the programmes and linkages with the industry. For successful implementation of the ODL programmes in agriculture, the interventions proposed are synergy between ODL and conventional system to improve GER and bridge the gap between demand and supply, collaboration with different institutions and industry for development and delivery of the programmes, linkage with the government schemes, popularization and recognition of ODL programmes, utilization of modern technologies, etc.
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India is an agrarian country and its importance cannot be ignored for sustainable and inclusive growth of the country. It is rightly said that “Prosperity in society can only be sustained with the desired growth of Agriculture Sector”. The sector has green, white, pink and yellow revolution to its credit and which is well reflected with the country’s ranking, in production level, in the World. The agriculture sector is shifting towards second green revolution based on improving the productivity by integrating traditional and scientific knowledge, taking agriculture to untapped agro-climatic regions, adoption of new hi-tech technologies, integrated watershed management, mitigation of climate change, protected cultivation, precision farming and realizing the potential of secondary agriculture i.e. post-harvest management and food processing. The new productive and sustainable framework requires skilled and trained human resource at different levels including farmers and agriculture youth. A skill gap study conducted by National Skill Development Cooperation (NSDC) in 2014, indicates that there is an additional net requirement of 11.92 crores skilled manpower in twenty-four key sectors including agriculture by 2022 (MSDE, 2015).

Vocational education has achieved limited success and the scenario in the agriculture sector is dismal. According to an IAMR Research, out of 219 million workers engaged in agriculture and allied activities, only 0.75 million (0.3 per cent of workforce in the age group of 15-59) have acquired some form of formal technical training (Mehrotra et. al., 2013).

The significance of vocational education and competency development is again in focus due to recent initiatives like ‘National Skill Mission’, ‘Make in India’ and Strengthening of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises. According to the results of 68th round of NSSO (2011-12), it is observed that today the total workforce in the country is estimated at 48.74 crores, of which approximately 23.84 crores (49%) is in the farm sector (NSSO, 2015). The Government of India has established National Skill Development Corporation and Ministry for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship to strengthen the implementation of skill development programmes in the country.

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