DISTANCE-EDUCATION Distance Education

THE FUTURE OF DISTANCE EDUCATION IN INDIA


WITH A MODEST GENESIS IN 1962, THE OPEN AND DISTANCE LEARNING (ODL) SYSTEM HAS GROWN EXPONENTIALLY INTO A DYNAMIC AND VIBRANT MODE OF TEACHING AND LEARNING THAT BOASTS OF ONE NATIONAL OPEN UNIVERSITY, 13 STATE OPEN UNIVERSITIES AND MORE THAN 200 DISTANCE EDUCATION CENTRES FUNCTIONING UNDER CONVENTIONAL UNIVERSITIES AND PRIVATE/AUTONOMOUS INSTITUTIONS. MORE THAN FOUR MILLION STUDENTS ARE ENROLLED IN THE ODL PROGRAMMES AND ACCOUNT FOR ABOUT 22% OF THE TOTAL ENROLMENT IN HIGHER EDUCATION.

UNTIL RECENTLY THE ODL SYSTEM IN INDIA WAS GOVERNED BY THE DISTANCE EDUCATION COUNCIL (DEC), ESTABLISHED BY THE INDIRA GANDHI NATIONAL OPEN UNIVERSITY (IGNOU) IN 1991. DEC WAS PRIMARILY ENTRUSTED WITH THE PROMOTION, COORDINATION AND MAINTENANCE OF STANDARDS OF ODL SYSTEM IN INDIA AND EXPECTED TO CREATE AN EFFECTIVE REGULATORY FRAMEWORK. HOWEVER, DEC WAS CRITICISED FOR ITS INACTION, APATHY AND LACK OF EFFECTIVE MECHANISM TO MONITOR IMPLEMENTATION AND ENFORCEMENT OF ITS NORMS. INSTITUTIONS OFFERING ODL PROGRAMMES FOUND THE NORMS PRESCRIBED BY DEC TOO RIGID AND UNREALISTIC, LACKING THE FLEXIBILITY TO MEET THE DIVERSITY OF LOCAL CONTEXTS AND EMERGING CONCERNS.

GIVEN THE REGULATORY UNCERTAINTY SURROUNDING THE AUTHORITY AND FUNCTIONING OF DEC AND REGULATION OF THE ODL SYSTEM, IN AUGUST 2010, THE MINISTRY OF HUMAN RESOURCE AND DEVELOPMENT (MHRD) CONSTITUTED A COMMITTEE UNDER THE CHAIRMANSHIP OF NR MADHAVA MENON TO “SUGGEST MEASURES TO REGULATE THE STANDARDS OF EDUCATION BEING IMPARTED THROUGH DISTANCE MODE”. THE MADHAVA MENON COMMITTEE QUESTIONED DEC’S AUTHORITY AS THE APEX REGULATOR OF THE ODL SYSTEM MAINLY ON THE BASIS OF ‘CONFLICT OF INTEREST’ AND LACK OF ADEQUATE MANPOWER AND TECHNOLOGICAL SUPPORT. ACCORDING TO THE MADHAVA MENON COMMITTEE, DEC BEING AN UNIT OF IGNOU AND WORKING UNDER THE CONTROL OF IGNOU, LACKED THE MORAL AUTHORITY TO REGULATE OTHER UNIVERSITIES WHICH ARE ALSO AUTONOMOUS BODIES CREATED BY THE ACTS OF VARIOUS STATE LEGISLATIONS AND HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO PRESCRIBE THEIR OWN NORMS AND STANDARDS.

THE MADHAVA MENON COMMITTEE OBSERVED THAT DEC, UGC AND AICTE DO NOT HAVE THE WHEREWITHAL TO ENFORCE THEIR NORMS IN THE DISTANCE EDUCATION SPACE. THE COMMITTEE FOUND THE ODL SYSTEM ‘PRACTICALLY UNREGULATED’ AND RECOMMENDED THE DISSOLUTION OF DEC AND THE ESTABLISHMENT OF AN ‘INDEPENDENT’ AND ‘EFFECTIVE’

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Overall Score 2.6 Yummy!

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