As formal education could not reach out to all sections of society covering all categories of people, Open Learning System makes it possible to include different sections of men and women of different age group. To meet the need for Open Learning System State Open School came up as a wing of the School Education Department in 1997. Renamed as Rabindra Mukta Vidyalaya (RMV)in 1998, it grew into a Statutory Organization with effect from 1st August, 2001 on the basis of Rabindra Mukta Vidyalaya Act, 2001, passed by the West Bengal State Legislature. The Act has been amended first in 2002 and next in February 2006. The amended Act has come into effect from the 1st January, 2007. According to the amendment of February, 2006 the Rabindra Mukta Vidyalaya has been renamed as the West Bengal Council of Rabindra Open Schooling (WBCROS). The West Bengal Council of Rabindra Open Schooling imparts open learning through self-study materials and personal contact programmes. More flexible and less rigid rules and procedures have been formulated taking into account the special need and circumstances of the target group of learners for whom the W.B.C.R.O.S is conducting study, examination and certification at the Secondary (class X) and Higher Secondary (class XII) levels. From the point of view of its constitution and responsibilities, this Council is analogous to other State Boards, Councils like the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education, West Bengal Board of Madrasah Education or the West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education. TheWest Bengal Council of Rabindra Open Schooling is recognised by the Government of West Bengal as well as the Government of India, the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS), other Boards etc and it is a member of the Council of Boards of School Education in India (COBSE).
The West Bengal Council of Rabindra Open Schooling is aimed at providing Secondary (Madhyamik) and Higher Secondary levels of education to the millions of disadvantaged learners, school drop-outs, unemployed and self-employed young men and women, whole time or part time workers in different establishments, peasants and elderly men and women, unsuccessful learners of formal system, physically and mentally challenged, slow learners and other weaker sections of the people.The Prisoners in some of the major Correctional Homes of West Bengal can also be enrolled as learners of WBCROS. The study Centres of W.B.C.R.O.S are located mostly in Government aided Secondary, Higher Secondary Schools, and Madrasahs spread over all the districts of West Bengal.The learners are enrolled in the Study Centres, spread all over the State.Minimum age of admission in the Madhyamik Course is 14 years. There is no upper age limit. A learner can take admission to Higher Secondary level if he or she has passed out Secondary Examination from W.B.C.R.O.S, W.B.B.S.E or any other recognised Board or Council. Enrollments or admissions are made twice for the Secondary level and once for the Higher Secondary level in a year. The learners are provided with study materials by this Council, prepared specially for self and open-distance learning mode of study. Once enrolled, a learner gets five years time for sitting in the examinations. Thus he/she gets nine chances to appear in the Madhyamik Examination and five chances to appear in the Higher Secondary Examination. A learner can take admission even with one subject only. Of course he/she can take admission with all the subjects. There is provision for transfer of credit for students coming out unsuccessful from other Boards/Councils with partial success in some of the subjects. Also there is provision for accumulation of credit, so that a learner may sit in the examination of this Council several times with limited number of subjects finally to clear all the subjects thereby becoming successful in the concerned level of study through credit accumulation. The West Bengal Council of Rabindra Open Schooling conducts three examinations in a year- two for Madhyamik and one for Higher Secondary .Madhyamik Examinations are held twice a year- once in June and the other in December. Higher Secondary Examination is scheduled to be held once in a year. It is to be mentioned here that the WBCROS has many aspects common in its aims and objectives, procedures, methodology, ways and means with those of the national counterpart, National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS).
The WBCROS has its own curricula for different courses of study like the Madhyamik and Higher Secondary and has own syllabi for the different subjects offered. These are very similar to the syllabi offered by the formal system of education in West Bengal. Based on these, books (study materials) have been developed by this Council with assistance from subject expert committees, especially for study in the self learning mode. The required numbers of various volumes of these books are printed and prepared which are then distributed by this Council amongst the enrolled learners through the Study Centres. The book distribution exercise has to be undertaken by the WBCROS thrice every year, twice after enrolment of learners for the Secondary level in June and December and once after enrolment of learners for the Higher Secondary level .Personal Contact Programme’s are arranged free of cost at the study Centres for the learners. Attendance at the Personal Contact Programme’s is not compulsory for the learners. But for laboratory based subjects for the Higher Secondary course attendance at the practical classes is compulsory.
Since its inception The West Bengal Council of Rabindra Open Schooling (erstwhile State Open School) has been discharging its mission to promote the cause of education among older section of people of the society and school drop-outs. It is also inspiring to know that female members even from weaker sections arecoming out of all social barriers to take the unique opportunities offered by the West Bengal Council of Rabindra Open Schooling and are getting themselves educated. The enrolment figures of students as well as the figures for examinees show that the female candidates from all categories of the population participate in larger numbers.
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