A government committee tasked to suggest measures to regulate the standards of distance education has recommended that technical and professional courses,like engineering,be offered through distance learning mode.
Keeping such courses out of distance learning,the committee headed by Prof Madhav Menon has said,will be against the accepted policy of the Government of India of expanding opportunities for higher education and making it inclusive as an instrument of democratising education and making it a life long process.
The committee has also called for making a degree earned through distance learning equivalent to a conventional degree and for legislation-backed regulation of the vast distance and open learning sector,which will be key to raising Indias Gross Enrolment Ratio of India to 30 per cent by 2020.
Data quoted by the panel shows that about 36 lakhs students are enrolled in distance learning courses or about 21.9 per cent of the 136.42 lakhs students taking conventional courses. Nearly 52 per cent of the students in open universities are from rural areas.
Besides,against 41 per cent women in the conventional system,the percentage of women enrolled in open universities is about 40 per cent.
Enrolment in distance learning courses (16.3 per cent) grew faster than in the conventional system (5.6 per cent) between 1975-76 and 2008-09. However,enrolment in technical and professional courses in the open system is less than 10 percent.
The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has been resisting opening up technical education to distance learning,arguing this will compromise the quality of education in absence of standards.
The Menon committee,therefore,has said an effective regulatory system must be put in place before opening up technical education to distance learning.
The HRD Ministry has accepted the recommendations and asked the AICTE to set up a committee to formulate such standards.