The National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) formerly known as National Open School (NOS) was established in November,1989 as an autonomous organisation in pursuance of National Policy on Education 1986 by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India. NIOS is providing a number of Vocational, Life Enrichment and community oriented courses besides General and Academic Courses at Secondary and Senior Secondary level. It also offers Elementary level Courses through its Open Basic Education Programmes (OBE).Government of India through a gazette notification vested NIOS with the authority to examine and certify learners registered with it upto pre degree level courses whether Academic, Technical or Vocational. Association of Indian Universities, vide letter No . EV/11(354)/91/ 25 July, 1991 issued Equivalence of Senior Secondary Certificate Examination of NIOS.

The National institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) has entered into its adulthood and completed two decades of its existence in the field of Open and Distance Learning (ODL) in the school education sector. This journey of the Institute has been quite successful. With about 2.71 million students on its roll, NIOS is credited to be the largest open school in the world with significant popularity in the Commonwealth countries and in certain other developing and developed countries. NIOS has been offering Secondary and Senior Secondary and Vocational Education & training (VET) courses through its study centers and Open Basic Education Programme through Accredited Agencies.

NIOS not only offers a wide spectrum of courses of study up to the pre-degree level for all categories of learners, but also works as a nodal institute for carrying forward the open school movement in the country in order to achieve the objective of developing an inclusive learning society. This has been possible due to dedication and unstinting support from all faculty and staff of the institute and other stakeholders. However, there are some tasks and issues that need quick intervention and concerted attention as indicated below :

  1. The success of ODL system largely depends on satisfaction of its learners, not only in terms of what is the quality of academic support they receive but also up to what extent they are empowered during the learning process. NIOS needs to work in this direction by consolidating and strengthening its academic support system.
  2. The National Curriculum Framework (NCF 2005) has posed several challenges of education before all of us, particularly in the school education sector; not only what is to be learnt but also to ensure the effectiveness of the process of learning. It emphasizes giving more freedom and autonomy to the learner. Hence, there is a need to revisit the curriculum of NIOS for making learning more and more learner oriented.
  3. NIOS needs to focus more on those disadvantaged groups of the society, who have been discriminated against getting education for long due to varied socio-economic reasons. We are in the process of developing workable and implementable action plans with due priority for reaching the unreached and uplifting them in the social structure by providing relevant and need based quality education. Besides SCs, STs, Girls and differently abled, NIOS has visualized a programme of education of minorities. The programme for education of minorities has already been started and it is in the process of expansion.
  4. In recent years, the modern technologies have been playing varied roles. Among other things, the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is being used widely by NIOS in the school education arena, particularly at the secondary and senior secondary levels. A comprehensive vision and perspective plan is being developed to harness the benefits of ICT for facilitating teaching-learning and other ODL endeavours. We are taking several steps for empowering the distance learners through our own efforts and by using the public-private partnership (PPP) mode of cooperation and collaboration. Some of the significant ICT based programmes that need focused attentions are:
    1. On-line admission
    2. On-Demand Examination System (ODES)
    3. Interactive Voice Response system (IVRS)
    4. 24×7 admission facility.

Capacity building of functionaries is an integral part of the ODL system. It is all the more important in the school education sector keeping in view the fact that a large number of personnel are associated with the system for planning, implementation and monitoring of educational programmes. NIOS has to develop a comprehensive system to ensure that the capacity building activities becomes an integral component at all levels including the functionaries working under the State Open Schools (SOSs). We have to make the open schooling system a vibrant agent to meet this challenge of capacity building of ODL functionaries not only at the national level; but also at the international level with support from international agencies like the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) and UNESCO.

In any instructional process, including ODL, research is an integral component not only to strengthen the system internally but also to contribute significantly to meet the national and societal goals. This area needs to be given significant attention for strengthening the instructional process as well as for making education relevant and need based to the learners. These efforts will prove useful in placing the open schooling programme on a sound pedestal.

NIOS is making concerted efforts for development of ODL system, particularly at the school level, by establishing a network of open schools to further strengthen the open schooling movement in country with the support from the Government of India and the State Governments. As envisaged in the XI Plan by the Planning Commission, NIOS, therefore, has to take a lead role in setting up of the State Open Schools in all the states.

There is a need to bring a happy balance between expectations from the institution and the actual contribution made by it to the society. Our endeavor would be to make the student a good human being and a useful member of the society. In this context, providing suitable vocational education and training (VET) to specific target groups who want to enter the world of work is our priority agenda to be implemented mainly through PPP mode. Societal expectations do not have any limits; however one must strive to make concerted efforts to meet these expectations as far as possible. The ODL system, like that of NIOS, therefore, has to work within the parameters of expectations and contributing substantially to the nation’s endeavours for universalisation of school education. Let us join hands for providing appropriate responses to the challenges of education.

What is NIOS?

NIOS is “Open School” to cater to the needs of a heterogeneous group of learners up to pre-degree level. It was started as a project with in-built flexibilities by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) in 1979. In 1986, the National Policy on Education suggested strengthening of Open School System for extending open learning facilities in a phased manner at secondary level all over the country as an independent system with its own curriculum and examination leading to certification.

Consequently, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India set up the National Open School (NOS) in November 1989. The pilot project of CBSE on Open School was amalgamated with NOS. Through a Resolution (No. F.5-24/90 Sch.3 dated 14 September 1990 published in the Gazette of India on 20 October 1990), the National Open School (NOS) was vested with the authority to register, examine and certify students registered with it up to pre-degree level courses. In July 2002, the Ministry of Human Resource Development amended the nomenclature of the organisation from the National Open School (NOS) to the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) with a mission to provide relevant continuing education at school stage, up to pre-degree level through Open Learning system to prioritized client groups as an alternative to formal system, in pursuance of the normative national policy documents and in response to the need assessments of the people, and through it to make its share of contribution:

  • To universalisation of education,
  • To greater equity and justice in society, and
  • To the evolution of a learning society.

What does NIOS do?

The National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) provides opportunities to interested learners by making available the following Courses/Programmes of Study through open and distance learning (ODL) mode.

  • Open Basic Education (OBE) Programme for 14+ years age group, adolescents and adults at A, B and C levels that are equivalent to classes III, V and VIII of the formal school system.
  • Secondary Education Course
  • Senior Secondary Education Course
  • Vocational Education Courses/Programmes
  • Life Enrichment Programmes

The OBE programme

Envisages schooling by providing a learning continuum based on graded curriculum ensuring quality of education for children, neo-literates, school drop-outs/left-outs and NFE completers.

For implementation of OBE programme, the NIOS has partnership with about 853 Agencies providing facilities at their study centres. It is a sort of academic input relationship with partnering agencies. The NIOS provides resource support (such as adaptation of NIOS model curricula, study materials, joint certification, orientation of Resource Persons and popularisation of OBE) to the voluntary agencies and Zila Saksharta Samities (ZSSs) etc., for implementation of its OBE programme.

At the Secondary and Senior Secondary levels, NIOS provides flexibility in the choice of subjects/courses, pace of learning, and transfer of credits from CBSE, some Board of School Education and State Open Schools to enable learner’s continuation. A learner is extended as many as nine chances to appear in public examinations spread over a period of five years. The credits gained are accumulated till the learner clears required credits for certification. The learning strategies include; learning through printed self-instructional material, audio and video programmes, participating in personal contact programme (PCP), and Tutor Marked Assignments (TMA). Enrichment is also provided to the learners through the half yearly magazine “Open Learning”. The Study Material is made available in English, Hindi and Urdu mediums. The On-Demand Examination System (ODES) is in operation at Secondary and Senior Secondary stage. NIOS offers 28 subject in eight mediums (Hindi, English, Urdu, Marathi, Telugu, Gujarati, Malayalam and Odia) for Secondary Examinations and 28 subjects in Hindi, English,  Urdu, Bengali and Odia mediums for Senior Secondary Examinations. Besides these, NIOS has provision of offering Vocational subjects in combination with Academic subjects at secondary stage and 20 vocational subjects in combination with Academic subjects at Senior Seondary level.

Acknowledging the fact that the young entrepreneurs will be the wealth of the nation, the learner friendly Vocational Education programmes of NIOS provide excellent prospects for the learners. It offers Vocational Education programmes in different areas such as Agriculture, Business and Commerce, Engineering and Technology, Health and Paramedical, Home Science and Hospitality Management, Teacher Training, Computer and IT related sectors, Life Enrichment Programmes and General Services. Knowledge, skills and qualities of entrepreneurship have been made essential components in curricula for Vocational Education with emphasis on practical and on the job training in related industrial units.

In order to upscale and place the Open Vocational Education Programme on a sound pedestal, NIOS is seeking collaboration with leading organizations in different educational development sectors like Industries, Medicines, IT etc. Within the overall provisions of the National Curriculum Framework (NCF-2005), NIOS has brought out a significant documnet titled “Vocational Educaiton and Training: A Framework on Curriculum Imparatives with a Foucs on Knowledge Acquisition and Skills Development: Initiative through Open and Distance Learning”. It is hoped that this document with prove useful as the basis for preparing a well deliberated Programme of Action (POA) for implementation of Vocational Education Programmes through ODL.

The NIOS programmes pay special attention towards requirements of the first generation learners, physically, mentally and visually challenged learners and candidates from disadvantaged sections of the society.


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