On one side government talks of literacy rate improvement and on another side slits its throat by making impediments on its way
Every dawning day brings new changes with perfect juxtaposition to the emerging needs. Education system too has evolved itself to satisfy the limitations of modern man which he faces while acquiring it. Distance Education being one such change has proved to be a massive boost to spread education among public with much flexibility in timing and mode of correspondence. It has taken a huge dig at usual mode of learning in recent years. With an awesome compatibility for the time and resources of a student it has proved itself more successful alternative than any other to acquire higher education. With a mesmerizing success all over the globe, it hasn't been a perfect option for youth of our state to use it to optimum level.
We are at par to the national scenario with respect to distance education status of the country although it has achieved huge laurels across the globe for its excellent success in distance education learning. IGNOU which was established in 1985 has made itself the largest university of the world with highest enrollment of about four million students. It has the study centers at off shores also which themselves claim for its fame. In 1993, IGNOU was designated by the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) as its first Centre of Excellence for Distance Education empowered "to actively participate in Commonwealth co-operative endeavors to identify, nurture, and strengthen open learning institutions throughout the Commonwealth, particularly in the ‘Third World.’
Leaving IGNOU aside, majority of the states of India have their own state open universities which offer distance education in varied fields. From Science to Arts they offer degrees in almost all subjects. With no such open university in our state which would offer degree in science subjects, Kashmiri youth turned to outside state institutes. But after a lot of stir on the issue of off campus study centers government framed an order in 2012 to dictate the terms for validity of such degrees. According to which degrees obtained from outside state universities via off campus study centers beyond the jurisdiction of state were ruled out. There is neither a state open university nor any private institute running in the state which would offer higher degrees in the science subjects to the left out students. It is the need of the government in such a case to make the alternative for such students who may not get admitted in any of the state university.
On one side government talks of literacy rate improvement and on another side slits its throat by making impediments on its way. In the recent selection of the staff for schools and colleges, lot of candidates were having their degrees from distance mode universities and that certifies that regular mode candidates have no supremacy over distance mode ones and have surely proved their mettle. University Grants Commission has made provisions for equivalence of regular and distance mode degrees in science subjects too but here in Kashmir students are made to beat the wall. Although government through an order has made a provision for science graduates to acquire distance mode degrees from outside state open universities but the formalities seem to be obnoxious and hence the option is usually shun by the students. Science students who can't complete their regular post graduation degrees either due to earlier employment or other issues have to either leave their study or turn to arts stream which is completely an unjustifiable move. They should be given an option to continue their study in their own subject as is done in other states of the country.
State government should either also operate distance courses for science subjects in Kashmir University and JU as they are doing for other subjects or should create a separate state open university which would offer all such courses to facilitate them. Although initially it may be done for limited number of students admitted on the basis of entrance examination but in the long run it will prove an abettor to balance the higher education in the state.
(Author is a Teacher at Department of School Education)