A JOINT EDUCATION PROGRAM IN ONLINE DISTANCE LEARNING MODE FOR NORTH EASTERN REGION OF INDIA
North Eastern Region of India is a picturesque land of seven sister states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura & the state of Sikkim. The geography of the region is dominated by undulating hilly terrain comprising of Khasi & Garo Hills in Meghalaya, Mizo & Lusai Hills in Mizoram, Patkai Hills in Nagaland and Arunachal Himalayas in Arunachal Pradesh which has made the region relatively inaccessible for developmental planning and infrastructural setup. Educational progress in these states have suffered due to geographic and linguistic barrier, concentration of maximum resources in terms of infrastructure and manpower around major cities, poor economic situation etc. An innovative approach to break these barriers is to take the help of Distance Learning to reach the huge student community. NESAC, established as a unit of Department of Space in Umiam, Meghalaya has a mandate of capacity building in the region. To fulfill the mandate, NESAC, in May 2019, conducted a first-of-its-kind Online Distance Learning Training Program on Remote Sensing & GIS Applications for students and professionals of the region jointly with IIRS, Dehradun which is having rich experience of conducting Distance Learning Programs in the country. The two week long training program was attended by more than 250 participants in online interactive mode and had an ensemble of lecturers taken from IIRS, Dehradun and NESC both. While faculty of IIRS covered the basics of RS & GIS, Geo Web Services, GNSS etc; the scientists of NESAC presented on various thematic applications of RS & GIS conducted by NESAC specific to the region. At the end of theoretical lectures, online exam was also conducted and based on the online evaluation, digital certificates were distributed to the successful candidates. IIRS, Dehradun also extended their help to NESAC in IT infrastructure at all steps of the course. NESAC received large positive feedback of the course, many participants asking for longer duration courses, customized courses and even advanced courses. NESAC has planned to conduct similar course annually.