By V Mohan Rao
Mangaluru, Nov 12, 2016: Ever since education for all has been made a fundamental right by the government of India, It has culminated in equipping substantial number of people with required knowledge and skills that would transform the citizens for a better future. Education as a fundamental right has paved way for upgrading qualification that could help oneself to adapt to the changing social perspective.
The term distance learning or Open University course means that it is a mode of learning which is provided to anybody who is at a distant place form the institution which is conducting educational courses with the object to address the educational requirements of the larger section of the population. The advent of technology and the sweeping changes in the educational field has addressed the limited scope of conventional educational system which was catering the students within a jurisdictional limit. Hence the advent of distance education has endeavoured to liberate the higher education that was the privilege of the elite few. The first Open University in the world was established in United Kingdom in 1969 and even to this day it continues to be a prestigious and reputed open university in the world. Since then much water has flowed below the bridge with the establishment of open universities in more than 30 countries in the world. Open learning is synomous with distance education in as much as the later is a mode used for transforming the former in to reality. In this mode of learning the teacher and the students are not physically present as in a traditional class room. The curriculum is made available by means of study materials which otherwise is known as self study materials which are delivered to the students at the place of their choice which would normally be home delivery. The study materials comprise of various media like print, radio, television, audio, video tapes, satellite, internet etc. Distance education deals with a variety of innovations in the educational field with flexible entry and exit, place of study and choice of subjectscourse that is suitable to the students. In contrast to the conventional colleges the Open University or the distance education addresses the educational inequality and provides a plethora of opportunities that are conspicuous by its absence in the colleges.
The important features of Distance Education: a) Flexibility; b)Educational opportunities are far reaching; c) Students can engage in lifelong learning process; d) The equation is relationship between students and teachers is in vogue; e) It provides opportunities for an open communication with the teachers.
The first Open University in India was established in Hyderabad in 1982 which was known as Dr. B R Ambedkar Open University. The Distance Education Council (DEC) constituted under IGNOU ACT (Indira Gandhi National Open University) was entrusted with responsibility to coordinate and promote the Open University system so as to facilitate the upkeep of quality education. However this regulatory function was vested with the University grants commission (UGC) as per the directions issued by the Ministry of Human Resource Development Department of Higher Education government of India on 29-12-2012. With the UGC vested with the regulatory function the distance Education Council was dissolved.
The open and Distance Education system has contributed to the following essential features
a) The teacher and student are at different places and separated by geographic distance
b) The system utilizes various forms of media like print, multimedia CD audiovideo.
c) It ensures students participation in projects, discussion forum and practical activities.
d) Importance is attached to self learning
e) It emphasizes an education as a self learning process.
Lack of financial resources is an embargo for students to pursue quality education to. This aspect is reversed by distance education. An important aspect of distance learning is that it provides variety of study materials that can adhere to every learner. In rural areas the educational institutions do not have rapport with the changing educational curriculum and have to put up with lack of adequate qualified teachers and also dearth of technical knowledge. Distance education is set to reverse this trend by providing quality education. This system has taken the form of industrial education and is tuned to the professional needs. It is pertinent to note that more than 25% of the students who are involved in higher education in India are pursuing their studies under the Open Distance Learning.
The unique feature of this mode of education is that it is accessible to all professionals, house wives and Youth who do not have access to conventional method of learning like college education.
The distance education offers the following courses:
Degree, Post graduate degree, Diploma, Post graduate diploma, Certificate, M Phil, and Ph.D. The different subjects that can be studied through distance education are as follows.
Human resources management Law, Psychology, sales and marketing, Management, IT, Finance and Accounting, Tourism and Hospitality, Mass Communication and Journalism, Public administration and Master and Arts in various subjects. Distance education courses that are in high demand are MBA, MCA, MA, BCA, BBA, Post Graduate Diploma in guidance and counseling, PG diploma in advertising and management. The IGNOU adopted programmes like PG Diploma in Higher Education (PGDHE), Diploma in Rural development (DRD) certificate in teaching English (CTE) are also in demand. Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) is the largest Open University in the world which has convergence and community college scheme. The university was established in 1985 under the Indira Gandhi National Open University Act passed by the Parliament. The education is run by the government of India and provides quality education to all without any restrictions, to age, religion, gender and region. The university has both long term and short term programs in certificates, Diplomas, Advanced diploma, degrees, PG courses and Associate degree. The university equipped with a wide student support services network with 67 regional centers and over 2667 study support centers and 29 overseas centers is involved in counseling sessions for the benefit of the students. The courses are tailored to suit the learners who are otherwise employed/not employed. The university which has international recognition offers flawless access to all by using innovative technologies and methodologies. It also ensures convergence of the system that would help in Human resource development that is necessary to promote integrated national development. The university has on its role 40 million students in India and 40 counties abroad.
The objectives of IGNOU are: a) To reach out to all irrespective of their disadvantage by making available programmes in all parts of the country at an affordable cost. b) To offer quality education with innovative and need based programmes to all who need them. c) To make available higher education to all segments of the society.
The university has made significant inroads into the field of higher education and professional development. Its excellence in distant education has earned it awards from the commonwealth of Learning Canada.
State Open Universities:
There are 13 state open universities, which offer education to people of all segments of the society. A brief profile of some of the universities are as follows:
a) Nalanda Open University (NOU):
The University was established in 1987 with headquarters at Patna in Bihar. With the passage of Nalanda Open University Act 1995 by the Bihar legislature, the University came under the preview of the new act. The University is recognized by University Grants Commission (UGC) and Ministry of HRD government of India for offering distance education. The university imparts education to the socially disadvantaged people of the society as well as to others who need to acquire higher academic qualification through distance education. There are ten schools under the Universities which offer graduation, post graduation, Diplomas, PG Diplomas and certificate programme.
b) Dr BR Ambedkar Open University (BRAOU)
The university came into existence by an Act of Andhra Pradesh State Legislative in 1982. The headquarters of the university is in Hyderabad. The University has a net work of 200 study centers in Andhra Pradesh with a student strength of 4,50,000 in all programmes. It has adapted the a multi-media, teaching method of learning which includes self learning by way of print study material besides audio and video lessons. It also engages in broadcasting lessons through All India Radio.
The courses offered by the University are post graduate program, under graduate program, Diplomas, Post graduate diplomas, M.Phil and P.H.D
c) Yashwantra Chavan Maharastra Open University (YCMOU)
The University is situated in Nashik Maharastra. The University was established in 1989 by an Act promulgated by the Maharastra State Legislature. The University with several study centers has audio and video facilities. It offers more than 200 academic programmes and has strength of 1.5 lakh students. The study centers are located all over the state and its regional centers are spanned over 3000 multi programme study centers. The university is a member of Association of Indian Universities.
d) Tamil Nadu Open University (TNOU)
The University is established in Chennai, Tamilnadu, by an Act 27 of 2002 of the Legislative Assembly of the Government of Tamilnadu. Distance education is introduced by the TNOU to facilitate access to higher education to persons deprived of higher education to physically challenged, working men and women, house wives, to the youth who are unemployed, economically and weaker section of the society. It has offered distance learning with 100 programs to more than 5 lakh students through 13 schools and 7 divisions.
The courses offered are certificate under graduate and Post graduate, diplomas. It has flexible examination system and its vocational courses facilitate acquiring knowledge and job opportunities. It has co-ordinated network of student support services with four university coordinating centre, 195 community colleges, 10 general BED programs study centre and 165 computer programme centre.
e) Karnataka State Open University
The KSOU established in Mysore Karnataka in 1996 through Karnataka government notification NOED I VOV.95 dated 12th February 1996. KSOU act 1992.
KSOU is a renowned open university in the country. By way of motivation the University reimburses fee to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled tribes under SCST government scholarships. Apart from this the university also helps the students of the economically weaker sections under “Muktha Sanjevini” scholarship program. The University imparts graduate, post graduates, Diploma, PG Diploma. M.Phil, PHD and online program of IGNOU.
It is a permanent member of the association of commonwealth universities, and a member of the association of Indian Universities Delhi. The university is recognized by Asian Association of Open Universities. Beijing China and has association with Commonwealth of learning. It is also recognized by the University of London. It has strength of 40,000 students all over India and is functioning through 13 departments that are efficiently managed by 57 well qualified faculty members.
It offers quality higher education to the public by providing relevant, accessible and affordable student based programs. Its programs include degree from the graduate level to doctorate level besides diplomas and certificate programs. The University is in the process of introducing multi level inter linked program in information technology besides other specialized programs by way of tie-up with IGNOU New Delhi.
KSOU caters to the requirements of the students based on conventional and non-conventional methods of teaching and learning. The study centres that are established in different places provide face to face interaction between the students and KSOU on all aspects of the academic programme.
Silent features of the university:
The Open- Distance learning system is a challenging mode of education offered by the university. The distance education programmes are tailored for;
a. Candidates who have discontinued their formal education due to some personal reasons or circumstances
b. Candidates who are unable to get admission to a regular college.
c. Employed persons who are unable to persue further studies due to paucity of time.
d. Individuals who desire to gain further knowledge
e. Candidates who desire to update their existing knowledge and skills.
KSOU is engaged in broadening the perspectives in education and research that facilitate providing knowledge to the society.
Competitive Examination Centre
The centre is a school which aims to train the graduate for suitable employment, providing opening for job avenues and increasing their marketability. It is a career guidance and training centre that is engaged in getting the students their choice of job. The centre caters to all pupils from the cross section of the society that includes the underprivileged.
The KSOU competitive training centre offers training, guidance and counseling to various competitive examinations such as
a. Police selection – written and physical test
b. NET, SLET, BEd, DEd, Teachers recruitment examinations
c. Training to the employees of government establishments for Departments examinations.
d. Competitive examination conducted by UPSC, KPSC
e. Banking and LIC examinations
f. Self employment training to the un-employed youth.
The university is presently debarred from accepting fresh admissions to the different courses by the UGC for flouting their rules and regulations. The degrees for the last three years has been derecognized by the UGC.
f.) Nethaji Subhas Open University (NSOU)
The NSOU is a prestigious State Open University in India that was established by W.B Act (XIX) of 1997 and is recognized by UGC. It has 120 study centers. The study centers provide several vocational, professional and online courses besides courses in M. Phil and PHD. The headquarters of the university is in Kolkata, West Bengal. The other academic courses offered are bachelor degree program, Post graduate degree program, diplomas and Certificate programmes.
By V. Mohan Rao, Retd. Deputy Chief Manager, Bank of India, Chennai Main Branch and Advocate.