the concept of community college system

Community Colleges are a supplementary system of education which aims to empower individuals through appropriate skill development leading to gainful employment in collaboration with the local industry and community. They offer the advantage of tailoring programmes to local needs and state-based requirements by using approaches that will be most acceptable to workers in the given community. Community Colleges generally have a 1-2 year curriculum that either leads to an Associate Degree for transfer to an undergraduate colleges or to the student’s direct entry into any occupation or trade. These colleges are a source of economic growth because they provide an educated and skilled workforce that improves the quality of life for individuals, students, communities, and the nation. The scheme gives credit to ‘In-service training and knowledge gained’ for award of degree. Similar schemes have been in vogue in some of the Western countries, United States of America being one of the pioneers.

Since the target group at Community Colleges may be of diverse age group and background, the access created for them should transcend the conventional institutional framework and should rather provide the flexibility in tune with the philosophy of openness. Vocational and skill- based education capable of increasing the employability quotient of the learners should be the focus of such access. The Community College Scheme is an initiative in this direction. A Community College may be defined as an institution which is ‘For the community, By the community and Of the community’ and entitled to award an Associate Degree (AD) as its highest degree. Its offers educational opportunities to all sections of society, particularly the marginalized and the disadvantaged. Proper definition of the Community should form the rationale for the establishment of a community college. Its definition may be restricted by way of geographical limitations. For example, it may be a group of people belonging to a district or a tehsil or a block or may be a cluster of villages. It can also be people involved in a particular kind of vocation, for example the betal leaf planters in the districts of East and West Midnapore in West Bengal, the tea plantation workers of Assam, Darjeeling and the Nilgiris, etc. They are indeed quite capable in their area of vocation, but they may not be having adequate exposure regarding the marketing aspect of their product. It would be worthwhile for them to have a systematic training in marketing in the form of a certificate or a diploma programme. Again, the construction workers are a community by themselves. Most of them are daily bread earners. They have to work as per the whims of the contractors who engage them. Of late there have been many regulations in force which are to be abided by these workers, but many of them are unaware about these. Construction workers involved in scaffolding often meet with fatal accidents primarily because of carelessness but it can also be due to lack of proper training in safety regulations. A Certificate Programmes at a community college encourage students who may want to attend a three-year degree but are not academically, mentally or economically ready to study in a formal system. In a community college, students can choose from multiple vocational and technical fields of study, which will be enabling mechanism for them to join a regular college or university for completion of a three year degree.

A major contribution of Community Colleges in different parts of the world has been to extend access to post-secondary studies for millions of students who would otherwise not have the desired opportunity. Even in countries such as the US and Canada, where Community Colleges started as peripheral to mainstream higher education system, people’s perceptions have changed and the social importance of an Associate Degree through a formal mechanism has considerably increased. The fact that approximately 44 percent of all undergraduates in the US study in Community Colleges reflects the importance and significance of such institutions.

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