YCMOU courses for Lankan varsity students

PUNE: The Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University (YCMOU) plans to offer online courses in conventional arts, commerce as well as agriculture streams to students at the University of Colombo in Sri Lanka as part of an exchange agreement between the two institutions.

R Krishnakumar, vice-chancellor, YCMOU, told reporters here on Saturday that the university had for the first time got into such exchange agreement, which was signed between the two institutions in August 2010. “We also plan to offer short-term certificate courses in human rights and office tools along with the mainstream online courses,” he said.

A 16-member delegation, comprising students from the University of Colombo’s Institute of Agro Technology and Rural Sciences and some practicing farmers from the island nation, was on a visit to the city on Saturday as part of their two-week tour to India. The delegation visited various agriculture institutions and facilities, including the Mahatma Phule Agriculture University in Rahuri; hi-tech polyhouses, nurseries, seed production and organic farming centres, among others.

According to Krishnakumar, both India and Sri Lanka share common interests in the field of agriculture as well as conventional higher education. “The cost of education in Sri Lanka is very high owing to a large number of universities from countries like UK, US and Australia having established their presence there. The Lankan government is open to establishment of study centres and distance learning initiatives.”Krishnakumar said, “Our objective is to utilise online and satellite technology for offering conventional arts, commerce and agriculture study courses at a cost that is affordable to students there. Also, we are exploring joint certification for academic programmes in areas relating to study of ancient culture in Sri Lanka and India, sociology and political science.”

Prof Nisansala Priyadarshan, a molecular biologist and coordinator of the visiting Lankan delegation, said, “The three decades of internal strife has taken a heavy toll on the development of agriculture in Sri Lanka. The progress in the field has not been equitable owing to the war situation. Now, we have the opportunity to develop the sector and we need to know newer technologies and practices in agriculture, which can be replicated in Sri Lanka.”

“The visits to some of the hi-tech agriculture facilities at Nashik, Pune and Rahuri would prove of immense help to students. Areas like organic farming are relatively new to Lanka and the country would like to develop them.”

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