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In the aftermath of the pandemic, many have lost their jobs and most of such people do not have a foreseeable future that would make possible their return to the occupation pursued before. As a result, people are eagerly looking forward to exploring alternative ways for earning a living utilizing the limited resources to their possession. For many of them, agriculture and allied sector is the only hope for the future to provide them a stable source of livelihood. However, to start with such a new means of earning, most of them need to first acquire the much-needed basic skills related to the vocation but they don’t have access to suitable courses of short duration through which they can acquire such skills without visiting the formal corridor of institutionalized learning. Skill development in agriculture and allied sector is, therefore, ever-increasing and the basic requirement of education and expertise can be fulfilled by the e-courses if made accessible to the people who need them through open and distance learning programmes.

Online education is an efficient instructional delivery process that includes learning processes via the internet that can be easy and comfortable for the learners. Online learning enables educators to communicate with the students who may not be capable of enrolling in a formal course delivered through traditional classroom teaching and can assist the learners who need to work as per their own schedule and at their own speed. Hence, it provides a convenient learning platform to both full-time and part-time learners. This has the flexibility to go through the courses at one’s own choice and speed. However, one has to be extremely self-motivated with the required enthusiasm and perseverance. The recently adapted new education policy of our country has also emphasized on the need for all institutions of higher learning cutting across various disciplines to take immediate steps towards adapting online distance learning to cater to the needs of the aspiring learners.

Over the years, Assam Agricultural University (AAU) has been effectively delivering higher education in agriculture and allied sciences including veterinary, fisheries, community science, horticulture and sericulture through its well-designed curricula, learned faculties, state of the art infrastructures under conventional mode of education. The University has now proposed to initiate a new dimension in its education policies, taking a bold step towards adapting online distance learning (ODL) programmes, especially when the country’s education system is facing grave challenges in this unprecedented time. Under this situation, online distance learning courses on agriculture and allied sciences will certainly attract more and more learners to its fold by giving them a wider room for learning and skill development in the relevant fields.

The proposed online programmes of AAU covering a wide range of diploma, certificate and short courses are expected to make the career of the learners and the professionals better. The courses are designed in such a way that these can cater to the needs of a wide spectrum of aspiring learners including farmers, entrepreneurs, rural women as well as unemployed youths. Our aim is to ‘reaching to the unreached’. The ODL courses will provide knowledge, skill and employment opportunities to all sections of the society as per their need and expectations.

Directorate of Open & Distance Learning
Assam Agricultural University

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