Distance Education in India

Distance education in India – An Introduction

Distance or Open Learning is a methodology of imparting education wherein the direct physical interface of teacher and student does not transpire at a predetermined time and place but is flexible as regards to time, place and method of admission without diluting the qualitative content . Various terminologies are used to describe this mode of education viz., correspondence, open and virtual. This procedure of dissemination of education is gaining popularity as it allows the unhindered continuation of the education process, skill updation and up gradation of the working class thereby imparting quality education to the needy residing at educationally disadvantageous locale.

For the co-ordination, promotion and the determination of the standards of distance education and Open University, Distance Education Council was constituted under The Indira Gandhi National Open University Act 1985. The duty of this institution was to set parameters for the education standards, co-ordination, evaluation and research, besides encouraging greater diversity, mobility, flexibility and accessibility in the process and exploiting the latest scientific knowledge and technology in synchronisation with existing universities for the education of the needy. University Grants Commission in 2013 took over Distance Education Council by establishing Distance Education Bureau which shall henceforth oversee distance education in India.

Distance Education In India -Types and Trends

There are two types of distance education methodologies currently prevalent - correspondence courses and open universities. Though both systems are currently in vogue, but the latter has gained much popularity as it has radically improved upon the shortcomings of the former. One of the reasons for the expansion of this education system is also the shortage of resources and qualified teaching personnel available to the state. In the open or non formal education process the key component is the existence of flexibility, in the domain of admission, place of instruction, mode of instruction, duration and curriculum.

Distance education in India has become so popular that the student enrolment has crossed the 10 million mark. Much stress is being laid on this mode for increasing the enrolment in higher education to 30% by 2020. As on 1st February 2010 a total of 152 institutions Universities/Institutions were approved by the Distance Education Council with an estimated student enrolment of 36.6 lakh. At present close to 24% of all enrolments are in the open distance learning mode. The contribution of distance learning to gross enrolment ratio in the higher education sector has risen to 22%. The distance education market of India is expected to be of the value of Rs 8700 crores by 2015 – 2016. The general aversion towards open distance learning has started to wane, which some experts believe to be the main factor contributing to the growth of skilled labour force in the country.

The fee structure of the courses offered by the Open Distance Learning institutions are guided by various factors viz., cost recovery, cross subsidising, social causes, professional orientation and occupational orientation. However the main consideration remains the recovery of the delivery cost of the programmes through student fee.

Distance Education in India – Future.

Distance education in India requires US $200 billion to upgrade capacity in traditional infrastructure if we are to meet demand in the conventional manner. That is mammoth tasks to accomplish for a sector keeping in view the government spend and it’s galloping popularity as compared to formal education system.

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