‘We need to main­stream the dis­ad­van­taged sec­tions’

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - HT Education - - Front Page -

What is dis­tance learn­ing? Dis­tance ed­u­ca­tion is a modal­ity which pro­vides im­mense ben­e­fit, not only to the learner’s pop­u­la­tion but also to the so­ci­ety as a whole. When a stu­dent goes to a univer­sity, he/she gets a reg­u­lar de­gree, here it goes be­yond that. The de­gree be­comes more rel­e­vant to the so­ci­ety along with be­ing rel­e­vant to the learner. Dis­tance learn­ing of­fers pro­grammes in un­con­ven­tional ar­eas, so it is in­cor­rect to say that it is a left­over univer­sity for stu­dents who do not get ad­mis­sion in Delhi Univer­sity. What makes dis­tance ed­u­ca­tion dif­fer­ent from learn­ing in other uni­ver­si­ties? There are three com­po­nents that make dis­tance ed­u­ca­tion dif­fer from any other learn­ing, i.e. self-learn­ing print ma­te­rial - there is a teacher in­side the book. This is fur­ther sup­ported by au­dio-video pack­ages (done through tele­con­fer­enc­ing, com­pact disks) and coun­selling. What does Ignou have to of­fer and to whom? Ignou aims to pro­mote ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­nity and so­cial jus­tice by pro­vid­ing high-qual­ity univer­sity ed­u­ca­tion for all seg­ments of the so­ci­ety, thus help­ing achieve democrati­sa­tion of higher ed­u­ca­tion. Ignou gives hope to all who wish to re­alise their am­bi­tions and ful­fill their po­ten­tial. We have school-leavers, teenagers who are forced into the labour mar­ket, new learn­ers who want ed­u­ca­tion train­ing for hor­i­zon­tal and ver­ti­cal mo­bil­ity, re­tired of­fi­cers from the army, navy and air force who want a de­gree in skill de­vel­op­ment to serve the so­ci­ety and ben­e­fit them­selves and dig­i­tal stu­dents who do not be­lieve in the four wall regime and pre­fer dis­tance mo­bil­ity. New plans for the in­sti­tute? I am plan­ning to in­tro­duce bridge cour­ses to bring peo­ple, par­tic­u­larly the dis­ad­van­taged sec­tions of the so­ci­ety into main­stream ed­u­ca­tion. Th­ese are skill-based cour­ses which will help stu­dents do cer­tifi­cate pro­grammes in ar­eas like mo­tor cy­cle me­chanic, or­ganic farm­ing, bee keep­ing, ser­i­cul­ture, di­a­bet­ics care, cor­rec­tional so­cial work - to name a few. It is only about play­ing with var­i­ous cour­ses and mak­ing an ap­pro­pri­ate com­bi­na­tion. Par­a­digm shift is tak­ing place in ed­u­ca­tion. The fo­cus has now changed to em­ploy­a­bil­ity, adding this com­po­nent is the only way to move for­ward. Th­ese days a stu­dent doesn’t ask whether he/she will be­come a scholar af­ter tak­ing a par­tic­u­lar de­gree. They are more wor­ried about whether they will get a job or not. We need an ed­u­ca­tion that ful­fills con­tem­po­rary re­quire­ments of the so­ci­ety. The Univer­sity of Grants Com­mis­sion has taken over the Dis­tance Ed­u­ca­tion Coun­cil. Any com­ments? Ever since the Univer­sity of Grants Com­mis­sion has taken over the Dis­tance Ed­u­ca­tion Coun­cil, I am con­cen­trat­ing more on mak­ing Ignou a for­mi­da­ble in­sti­tu­tion. It was a part and par­cel of me, but there are other prob­lems like un­em­ploy­ment, ed­u­ca­tion, in­creas­ing num­ber of dropouts that need to be taken care off. We need to main­stream the dis­ad­van­taged sec­tions and I think ed­u­ca­tion is the best tool to do this.”

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