In a step aimed at enhancing the acceptability of open schooling system, the government is considering framing a policy which will enable regular schools adapt distance education programme.

“A national policy will be evolved under which regular schools will embrace distance education. This will make distance schooling more acceptable,” Human Resources Development Minister Kapil Sibal said in his address to the annual meeting of National Consortium for Open Schooling.

Of the 1 crore children in the age group of 14 -18 years who currently pursue secondary education, 16 lakh are doing it through open schooling system.

“This number (16 lakh) is not good enough. It should be increased to about 70 -80 lakh by the end of the 11th Five Year plan and should be 1.5 crore by 2020,” he said.

The major problem in distance education is its non-acceptability among the people as an effective and efficient alternative of the regular schooling system.

Mr. Sibal said if the regular schools could adapt distance education programmes it will upgrade the quality of distance schooling and make it more acceptable.

The regular schools should be able to assess the drawbacks in the open schooling system, he said.

The distance education in schooling is offered by National Institute of Open Schooling. 14 states in India have decided to start their own open schooling institutes.

Mr. Sibal was critical of the “poor progress” in the launching of open schooling system in states.

Though Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka have decided to start the system, they are yet to come out with a proper scheme, the Minister said.

He stressed on making distance education an efficient alternative to the regular system by improving the quality of study material and evaluation system. He also insisted on a flexible distance education system under which there could be credit transfer for certain courses.

The HRD Minister also emphasised on integration between open schooling and university education system.

Minister of State for HRD D. Purandeswari said the government will come up with a scheme to provide financial support to the state governments to start open schooling system.

The consortium comprising NIOS and state open schools met here today to revisit their aims and objectives in the light of a new scheme Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) started by the Centre.

The meeting will also formulate a new strategy to increase enrolment in open schooling.