Call for policy on distance education

HYDERABAD Dec. 4. V.C. Kulandaiswamy, former Vice-Chancellor of Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), has suggested that the Government set up a National Commission on Distance Education to study this relatively new tool in terms of its potential and develop a vision for its promotion and use in all its aspects in the next two decades.

He said distance education would cater to 40 per cent of students in higher education system by the end of the Tenth Five Year Plan and will also play an important role in continuous education but there has been no well defined policy on distance education.

Prof. Kulandaiswamy expressed this opinion while delivering the XIth Convocation address of the Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Open University here on Wednesday. There has been no clear funding policy which is so essential for distance education, he pointed out.

He said the Distance Education Council (DEC) which has been vested with the responsibility of determining the standards and promotion of distance education has failed to live up to its expectations due to certain inherent weaknesses. "The IGNOU Act must be amended to make an explicit provision for DEC, with its composition, powers and functions,'' he felt.

For overall development of the country, he said certain specified levels of educational preparation was a prerequisite. However, secondary education has been neglected and only 10 per cent of the population goes beyond 10th standard. The infrastructure created for training at the post-secondary education level is also poor and we end up producing more doctors than nurses and as many engineering graduates as technicians. "We have to bring about a massive increase in the number of institutions for skill development.''

Earlier, the Governor and Chancellor of the University, C. Rangarajan, gave away the gold medals to candidates who excelled in their respective subjects. Prof. Kulandaiswamy was conferred with the Degree of D.Litt (Honoris Causa). The BRAOU Vice-Chancellor, V.S. Prasad, explained the achievements of the University and the proposals to make it on a par with the best.

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