Centre of learning

Print edition : June 18, 2010

Crawford Hall of the University of Mysore. Planned originally to house the Representative Assembly of Mysore, it now hosts convocations and other important functions.-M.A. SRIRAM

Mysore, the city of palaces, is popularly acknowledged as the cultural capital of Karnataka and a favourite tourist destination. The city, which was the capital of the erstwhile princely state of Mysore, keeps a slow pace in marked contrast to the frenetic pace of Bangalore, the State capital, around 150 kilometres away. The palaces that dot the city give it a distinct identity, while the trees along broad avenues add to the city's charm. In the past, Mysore nurtured great traditions in the fields of art, architecture, education, literature and progressive administration. Today, it has established itself as a leading centre of higher education in the country.

Before Independence, enlightened kings and their far-sighted diwans Sir K. Seshadri Rao, Sir M. Visvesvaraya and Sir Mirza Ismail among them made Mysore one of the most progressive states in the country. A modern system of education was established in Mysore as early as 1833. Maharaja's College, now affiliated to the University of Mysore, was founded in 1864 and became a first-grade college in 1894. Major Central government research institutes and private colleges flourish in the city, which has a population of about 10 lakh.

The University of Mysore, established in 1916 in Mysore city, was the first university in the region and the sixth in the country and has a rich tradition of scholarship. The Karnataka State Open University (KSOU) was set up in 1996 to take over the distance education programmes of the University of Mysore, which had been conducting them since 1969.

The city also has several quality institutions run by the Jagadguru Sri Shivarathreeshwara (JSS) Mahavidyapeetha, such as the JSS Law College (JSSLC) and the JSS Polytechnic for the Differently Abled (JSSPDA). International residential schools, such as the Jnanasarovara International Residential School (JIRS), have also come up recently, making Mysore a complete educational destination.

Visually impaired students in the medical transcription laboratory at the JSS Polytechnic for the Differently Abled.-BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The University of Mysore was founded by the Maharaja of Mysore, Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV, in 1916 to promote higher learning. It is situated on a beautiful campus called Manasagangotri, which is close to the heart of the city and offers a panoramic view of the nearby Chamundi hills. The administrative offices of the university are located in the majestic Crawford Hall, built in 1947. Planned originally to house the Representative Assembly of Mysore, it now hosts university convocations and other important functions. The university has inherited a vision and tradition of promoting socially relevant education that has the scope to nurture individual excellence, socially conscious citizenship and inclusive development. It has under its jurisdiction 183 affiliated colleges in four districts Mysore, Mandya, Hassan and Chamarajanagar 49 recognised research centres and 26 outreach centres spread throughout the country. The university caters to more than 70,000 students, including 5,526 in postgraduate courses. Around 1,500 foreign students from 51 countries pursue higher studies at the university.

Its motto, Na Hi Jnanena Sadrusham meaning nothing is equal to knowledge rightly reflects its attitude. By 2025, the university hopes to be one among the top 150 universities in the world and one among the top 10 in the country.


The KSOU was established on June 1, 1996, under a Special Act of the State legislature entitled the KSOU Act, 1992. It was established to provide opportunities in higher education to people living in remote areas in the State and outside. with particular emphasis on disadvantaged groups, mature adults (over 15 per cent of students), housewives and working professionals (close to 50 per cent of students).

V.G. Talawar, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Mysore.-M.A. SRIRAM

The KSOU was carved out of the Institute for Correspondence Courses and Continuing Education (ICC&CE), which was established by the University of Mysore in 1969. It follows the credit system and uses the self-learning material prescribed by the Distance Education Council (DEC), New Delhi. The DEC has approved all the programmes of the KSOU up to 2013.

The academic programmes offered by the university are regularly updated on the basis of periodic market surveys. The content of the updated programmes is routed through an experts committee for checks on quality and standards. The syllabi of the programmes are revised periodically. A wide variety of programmes, both conventional and professional, are on offer. The latter are to help working professionals to update their knowledge and skills so as to enable them to cope with the challenges of globalisation.

The KSOU has partnered with private institutions to offer professional programmes such as Master of Science (Information Technology), Bachelor of Science (Information Technology), Master of Business Administration in Aviation. These tie-ups offer the support of physical infrastructure such as laboratories and the necessary human resource. According to Professor K.S. Rangappa, Vice-Chancellor of the KSOU, the university's plans include the starting of online courses.

We are also planning to introduce science courses from this year, including courses in environmental science, computer science, statistics and mathematics, and are planning to shift to a new campus very soon, said Rangappa. The KSOU is forging ahead and marking out a strong identity for itself even internationally.


Started in 1982, the JSS Law College was the first law college in the country to achieve autonomous status.-M.A. SRIRAM

The JSSLC was started in 1982 and is the first law college in the country to achieve autonomous status, which gives it complete freedom with regard to admissions and curriculum. The college has been given a B+ by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) and is also recognised as an institution of excellence by the Bar Council of India. The faculty, which have been drawn from diverse backgrounds and include several top practising lawyers, are well qualified, have practical knowledge and experience, and use evaluative, analytical and problem-solving teaching methods. For the past 15 years, the university toppers in law have been students of the JSSLC, the college says. The diversity of students is hard to miss on the campus. The JSSLC has made it a point to have a lot of diversity in its student body as the varied experiences enrich the educational quality. We have students from 12 countries, including Afghanistan and the African continent, as well as students from across India, said Prof. K.S. Suresh, principal of the JSSLC.

The college also understands the importance of continuous innovation and that law students need to have knowledge in many different areas. In this regard, the college is introducing a variety of courses to allow students to opt for courses outside their stream. They will be given additional credits for these courses. All students will have an opportunity to add 25 credits to his course, which will be made a part of the marks card, said Suresh.

From the forthcoming academic year, the college has introduced a practical/skill component that will be separate from the theory component so that students can learn through practice. The student's practical knowledge of law will be complete once she goes through a course at the JSSLC, emphasised Suresh. The students of the JSSLC have done the college proud by winning at leading moot court competitions across the country. Many High Court judges recruit students from the JSSLC to assist them. Court visits and participation in legal aid and literacy programmes are added advantages that the students get at this institution. The college has campus placement, and reputed multinational companies and legal firms regularly hire its students.


K.S. Rangappa, Vice-Chancellor, Karnataka State Open University.-BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

In 1991, for the first time in India, a polytechnic for the physically handicapped was established in Mysore. Called the JSS Polytechnic for the Differently Abled, the institute provides professional training at the diploma level to those who are hearing impaired or visually impaired or orthopedically challenged. It was started under a World Bank assistance scheme of the Government of Karnataka at a cost of Rs.12 crore and is located on four hectares on the campus of the JSS Technical Institutions in Mysore. The entire polytechnic is single-storied and has been constructed so that students can go about their daily activities without assistance.

According to Nanjundaswamy, the principal of the polytechnic, it took more than two years to design the completely barrier-free building. The architecture of the building even exceeds the norms of the World Health Organisation (WHO) for differently abled friendly architecture. The institute offers six diploma courses of three years' (six semesters) duration each. Courses are offered in architecture, commercial practice, computer science and engineering, jewellery design and technology, electronics and communication engineering, and computer applications. The JSSPDA also has placement facilities.

One of the institute's most successful courses is the medical transcription course offered as part of the three-year Diploma in Computer Applications for the visually impaired (totally or partially blind). The course, which is based on the guidelines provided by the American Association for Medical Transcription (AAMT), is highly commended, and 12 students who took it are now working as medical transcriptionists for American medical transcription companies in India. Visually impaired candidates who complete this course have good job prospects and can lead independent lives.

The JSSPDA has students from across the southern States, with many of them, including local residents, preferring to live on campus as they form friendships and social communities among people who have similar impairments. A hydrotherapy pool for orthopedically challenged students is a part of the facilities at the polytechnic. Many of the faculty members have been associated with the institute for close to two decades and have developed teaching methods to suit the needs of their students. Two more institutes of this nature have come up, in Kanpur and Tirupati, following the example set by the JSSPDA, but it remains the pioneer, in its methods as well as in its service motive. The courses are subsidised, and there are several scholarships for deserving students.


Sudhakar S. Shetty, chairman of the JIRS.-BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The Jnanasarovara International Residential School was established on the outskirts of Mysore in 2004. The school attracts an increasing number of students from India and abroad and this is testimony to the benchmark it has set for quality education. The English medium, coeducational school has students from 12 countries and 10 States across India and offers education from Montessori/LKG to the 12th Standard. It is affiliated to the CISCE (Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations) in New Delhi and prepares students for the ICSE (Indian Certificate of Secondary Education examination) in the 10th Standard and the ISC (Indian School Certificate Examination) in the 12th Standard. It is also recognised as a University of Cambridge International Examination Centre and offers the IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education) course.

According to Sudhakar S. Shetty, chairman of the JIRS, the school provides its students with motherly care along with a consistent emphasis on systematic monitoring through the holding of weekly tests so that the students are ready for board exams. The school is the dream of Sudhakar Shetty, who has a long history managing educational institutions. The school also offers an education based on Indian values, which does not mean that it is religious. Asked why he chose the residential model of schooling, Sudhakar Shetty said: Day schools can perhaps complete the prescribed lessons but the learning process remains incomplete. This can only be done in a residential school where there is a systematic and disciplined method in place so that there is all-round development of the child. The demanding schedule at JRIS is a mix of academics, sports and co-curricular activities. Several clubs offer creative challenges so that the child can learn practically.

The faculty of the JRIS consists entirely of postgraduate teachers, most of whom mentor students in their roles as dorm parents. For this purpose almost all the faculty reside on campus. The teacher-to-student ratio is also one of the most favourable among residential schools, with only eight students for each teacher. We also have exchange programmes with schools in foreign countries, and last year a batch of our students visited Kuala Lumpur, said Sudhakar Shetty. Having established a name for itself in such a short time, the JRIS seems to be well on its way to becoming one of the top international residential schools in India.

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