Rural Knowledge Centers: Partners in Promoting a New ODL Paradigm

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Dixit, Sreenath
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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)
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PCF4 // It is called a Rural Knowledge Center (RKC), Village Information Center (VIC) or a Community Learning and Information Center (CLIC). It is a new institution in the Indian rural milieu. It is a one-stop center of the village where community members can be assisted with information ranging from how to manage pod borer infestation in their pigeonpea crop to what are the government schemes currently in operation his/her village. These are increasingly seen as vehicles of capacity building and educational change in rural India. Home to nearly 65% of the country’s population (1.2 billion), rural areas have little opportunity for the poor communities to learn life skills. The incidence of poverty, illiteracy and malnourishment experienced in this part of the country is much higher than its urban counterparts’. The information needs of the poor rural communities in agriculture, animal husbandry, health, governance and the like had so far been considered impossible to address owing to the vastness of the nation and remoteness of the areas to be catered. // Success of many ICT4D projects, a wealth of institutional knowledge and a long standing in open and distance education, have created opportunities for the country to provide right kind of information to the needy at the right the time. Technology mediated non-formal distance education with a focus on development and supported by rural knowledge centers is perceived as a new paradigm in distance learning. It is thought; this would play a major role in imparting life long learning skills to vulnerable rural communities and help them fight poverty. This paper examines the opportunities and challenges for RKCs in distance learning as experienced by different institutions engaged in this filed. // Paper ID 326