Special Correspondent

The objective is to improve the quality

of education

‘Networking of ODE institutions is a must’

GULBARGA: The National Knowledge Commission (NKC) has called for major reforms in the system of Open and Distance Education (ODE) to achieve the objective of improving the quality of education imparted through ODE mode.

The commission, in its recommendations on ODE to the Union Government, said that it would not be possible to achieve the gross enrolment ratio of 15 per cent by 2015 in higher education without a massive expansion in ODE.

The recommendations pointed out that more than one fifth of the students enrolled in higher education were in ODE stream and ODE had enormous potential to spread higher education. “There is a need to improve the quality of ODE and to make it more appropriate to the needs of society.”

Stressing the need for networking of all ODE institutions, the commission said that a national information and communication technology infrastructure should be set up through government support for the purpose. A digital broadband knowledge network proposed by the commission should have provisions for interconnecting major ODE institutions and study centres in the first phase. A national ICT backbone would enhance access and e-governance in ODE and enable dissemination of knowledge faster.

The commission said that a national educational foundation with one-time infusion of adequate fund should be established to develop a web-based repository of high quality educational resources. Open educational resources (OER) should be created online through a collaborative process, pooling in efforts and expertise of all major institutions of higher education. The OER repository would supply pedagogical software for various programmes through ODE and made available to all ODE institutions. To assess ODE students, a national education testing service should be established through legislation and provided functional powers and responsibility. The unified examination system would test the learners’ ability to perform intellectual and practical tasks. Degrees and activities offered through ODE should be certified through this system.

The commission has stressed the need for convergence of programmes run by open universities and correspondence courses offered by distance education wings of conventional educational institutions. Rather than functioning as a parallel system at odds, open universities must forge organisational alignments with conventional universities aimed at common goals and strategies.