Seated in the northeastern part of India, Nagaland is a secret garden in a shrouded corner of the country. Even though, Nagaland has been a state under government of India since 1963, for many Indians, this place is still obscure. "In the mindset of people in India, northeastern region is a far distant area in the country. No historians have written about the history of Nagaland in Indian perspective," says Dr. H. N. Dutta, Vice Chancellor, The Global Open University, Nagaland.
The people who live in this hilly state have gone through many challenges while developing their socio-economic conditions. One of the biggest challenges was education. "Many people in Nagaland are living below the poverty line and many of them are deprived of their basic right, as they cannot pursue higher education. Consequently, the need of an open education system was evident in the state," says Dr. Imotemsu Ao, Director and Registrar, The Global Open University, Nagaland. Both Dr. Dutta and Dr. Ao are integral heads in the administration of The Global Open University. Since the past eight years, they have been on a mission to transform the people of Nagaland and make them self-reliable in their homeland by empowering them.
Eight Years Ago
From the beginning of 21st century, the country enjoyed an exceptional growth in the number of higher educational institutions in its mainland. During this period, both private and public sectors were competing to build up their educational ventures wherever they get a space. While, on the northeastern part of the country, Nagaland had only two universities and hardly four higher educational institutions until 2006. The lack of higher educational institutions offering technical and professional careers in this region was forcing students to move away from the state in pursuit of better education and employment. The community of this region thus spent huge budget annually on higher education. "Students who go out from the state for education hardly come back home again. It is creating a vacuum in terms of human potential and resource in this region," says Dr. Dutta. This is a common scenario, for Nagaland, and as well as for the entire region of northeast India.
The arrival of The Global Open University in the year 2006 was a relief to this critical scenario of the state. According to its visionaries, it was a mission to make the people self-reliable in their homeland by empowering the people through vocational education. The university started its operations from Dimapur, by offering 115 different vocational, skill based and job-oriented courses. While the other universities of Nagaland concentrated on niche courses in technical and management field, TGOUN offered courses like Road Construction Management, Environment Management, Ecology and Environment, NGO Management, Disaster Management, Remote Sensing, Valuation, Distance Education Management, Educational Technology Forensic Science and Green Technology to name a few. These were apart from the regular courses such as Nano Technology, Bachelor of Computer Applications, Master of Computer Applications and Management of Business Administration.
The Success of Employment Centric Courses
Even though the major focus of the university was to provide education to the people of Nagaland, the uniqueness and quality of the courses raised the reputation of TGOUN to the national level and received huge number of applicants from all across the country. The initial success and the overwhelming feedbacks from the students who spread across the nation encouraged the university to expand further. By establishing two more centers to study in the state, they started providing courses like Hotel Management and Catering Technology, Fashion Design Technology, under regular mode of teaching. Since 2008, from the first batch of Hotel Management students, the university has achieved 100 percent placement for this particular course. "Apart from providing a degree certificate, a university should also look in to the future perceptive of the student's employment. We prepare our curriculum by keeping this fact in mind," says Dr. Dutta.
With new state-of-the-art academic blocks and administrative buildings, the university is well settled for its next schedule of expansion. The management has well written road map in their hand, which includes multiple plans like extending the number of courses, inclusion of technical and research based programs and many more to its existing curriculum. "In next 10 years we will be one of the best universities in the northeast region," says Dr. Ao with immense confidence. This never retreating confidence is enough to break any socio-economic barriers and make the people of Nagaland self-reliable and educated citizens in their homeland.
Future action Plan:
"Within the next five years, the university plans to start Engineering and Medical courses including more campus programs. The main idea and concept of the university is to solve the present problem of unemployment in the state of Nagaland, in particular and northeast, by introducing a unique approach of an inter marriage of professional and job oriented subjects with traditional disciplines," says Dr. Ao.