BHUBANESWAR: Elementary school dropouts of the State now have an option to complete their education with the School and Mass Education (S&ME) Department's decision to establish a State Institute of Open Schooling (SIOS) in the State from this academic session.
SIOS will benefit numerous adolescents being deprived of formal schooling due to lack of resources or who have to give precedence to income generation activities, mostly agricultural practices. Youths in backward districts will be prioritised for the programme.
As per the official statistics, about 10 lakh students studying in Class VIII dropped out of formal schooling due to various reasons between 2007 and 2011. S&ME Department Commissioner-cum-Secretary Usha Padhee laid emphasis on the establishment of Open School System to provide flexibility to the students and introduce the 'On demand examination' facility.
Those enrolling under the programme would be allowed to complete the course, equivalent to Class X under Board of Secondary Education (BSE), in five years time. They can also choose to appear at the examination according to their convenience.
State Government has already sanctioned `two crore for the current academic session for execution of the proposal. SIOS would be registered under the Society Registration Act, 1860, in October.
State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) Assistant Director Tilottama Senapati said the SIOS proposal was first mooted in 1995 but could not materialise. "The main objective is to allow the learners to earn a certificate at their own pace, as and when the resources are available with them," Senapati said. A student has to be minimum 14-years-old to enrol for the programme but no upper age limit has been set, she added.
The programme will be headed by District Education Officers (DEOs) in the 30 districts and would be executed from academic session 2014-15. Study centres will be set up across 314 blocks of the State under the supervision of Block Level Officers (BEO).
Initially, creating awareness about SIOS will be the main priority of the DEOs and BEOs.
The study centre will be set up at a prominent high school of the block and the headmaster will campaign about different facilities offered under SIOS. The study material available via National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) has been translated into Odia. Gradually, vocational courses will also be incorporated into the programme.