The power of open schooling

25 Dec

Here is the transcript of my speech given at the National Institute of Open Schooling’s 25th Anniversary celebrations at Chennai, where I was recognised as the all-India topper for the Senior Secondary April 2013 exams.

Each time I open an NIOS textbook, I am greeted with the words – “Congratulations! You have accepted the challenge to be a self-learner. NIOS is with you at every step…”

I am happy because here in my hand is a powerful tool to follow my dreams.

My story is not an unusual one. I do not have any exceptional sporting talent — like Vandana here — and nor is mine a tale of academic rags-to-riches. But like any other person of my age, I have some interests that I wished to explore, not after ‘settling down in life’ (does this ‘settling down’ ever get completed?) but right now, as a child. NIOS helped me to pursue these interests in two ways: one, by studying the subjects of my choice – Economics, History, Accounts and Psychology. Secondly, by allowing me to study at my own pace, I was able to pursue interests that were non-academic but equally important to me.

Normal schooling would not have allowed me to pursue this self-directed experiment in education. And it is for this reason that NIOS plays a very important role in education and society. It gives us children leverage over our lives.

On one hand, NIOS has helped young prodigies to work towards their pursuits without missing out on formal academic education. On the other hand it has helped learners with difficulties in reaching their academic goals. But in between the ends of this spectrum there are so many children like you and me who do not wish to stay in the school system — not because we cannot cope with it, but because we do not want to. We believe and aspire for an education outside the four walls of authority and convention.

There are so many people like us who do not thrive in the conventional system, but do not know that they have another option. And it is for this reason that each of us must become personal ambassadors of NIOS. Whenever I explain the concept of NIOS to anybody, more often than not, they say, ”Wow, I didn’t even know that such a great framework exists!”

We have to spread the word about the power of open schooling!

As we all know, many innovative and informal learning models have been set up in the country. They are being built in the metro’s slums and in the minority communities. They are being set up by people who teach simply out of the love to teach. These models are not striving to be schools, and are educating people successfully just the same. If we could hand over the tool of open schooling to these people, I have no doubt that their effectiveness will increase manifold.

It is no small achievement to be the largest open schooling system in the world. But we still have a long way to go; fortunately for us, the road ahead is well-defined. We need to strengthen our contact and information centres. As we heard today about NIOS being taken to minority groups, unskilled workers, rural learners, we understand that it can be integrated it into people’s larger needs of learning, career and life in so many different ways. We need to spread the word, NOW, never knowing who is going to benefit from it!

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Mr.Ravi, Chennai Regional Director, NIOS, all our chief guests, and NIOS at the Centre. Most of all, I’d like to thank my wonderful family for letting me fly.

Aditi Parekh

Aditi , a 16 year old schooled at Rishi Valley school, is currently a life-learner living in Coimbatore. She is involved in experiments with and would like to reach out to alternatives in learning and schooling. Her interests include writing, social change and Bharatanatyam.


SPREAD THE WORD!

11 Responses to “The power of open schooling”

  1. Deepa Dixon January 22, 2014 at 1:55 am #

    Hi Adithi, Your profile says you were schooled at Rishi Valley School. I just want to know how long you were there. When did you start with NIOS?

  2. Aurélie February 7, 2014 at 1:03 pm #

    How does NIOS work? I mean, how do you get started? And what about exams? Do universities/colleges recognise NIOS?

    • Deepa Dixon February 10, 2014 at 7:43 pm #

      Hi Aurelie,

      NIOS is both and examining and certifying authority. So they conduct exams and also provide you with completion certificates. And yes, it is recognized by universities and colleges. I think only kids above 13 years of age can enroll with NIOS. This is all I know about NIOS as of now.

  3. leema February 26, 2014 at 4:30 pm #

    my 10yr old son is a learning disability child certified as slow learner with ADHD want to know how i can complete his academics thru NIOS

    • Deepa Dixon March 3, 2014 at 2:50 pm #

      Which city are you residing in Leema?

  4. Mrs.Khedekar April 11, 2014 at 5:26 pm #

    I would like to know:
    1.Can my child go back to mainstream? schooling if she wishes to?

    • Aravinda May 4, 2014 at 9:34 pm #

      Dear Mrs. Khedkar,
      According to the Right to Education Act schools cannot deny admission.

  5. Lakshmi Narasimhan August 19, 2014 at 2:35 pm #

    Dear All,

    It is nice to know about NIOS and Homeschooling but, I have alot of questions and apprenhensions about this method of learning.

    Is it possible to meet and discuss such issues ?

    Kindly, let me know.

    Regards,
    Lakshmi Narasimhan

    • Deven August 23, 2017 at 2:45 pm #

      Dear All,

      NIOS was started by the HRD of INdia. Once a child reaches 14 yrs they can register in the regional offices and complete their 10th std and after that 12th std. The certificates are recognised all over. You have to take 6 subjects. After 12th std the child can join IGNOU and finish graduation and thereafter MBA also.

  6. Varuni June 1, 2015 at 11:32 am #

    hi, can you tell me the best open schools in chennai

  7. Subramaniam October 24, 2016 at 3:13 am #

    Hi

    How is the marks given in NIOS? For a good student, can he or she aim to get marks as good as CBSE student in class 12th. I mean can they get 80% and above

    regards

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