In a big departure from its earlier stand, the Centre has notified in July 25 Notification that degrees, diplomas and certificates granted by universities through open and distance-learning mode of education for programmes including technical education would now be considered valid for Government Employment.
Earlier, all the concerned regulators MHRD, UGC and AICTE had barred universities and other higher-educational institutions from offering diploma, bachelors and postgraduate courses in engineering and technology other than MBA and MCA through distance-learning. In fact some State / State Open Universities were seriously reprimanded by UGC / DEB for imparting technical education through Distance Education Mode.
However, Madhav Menon Committee had advocated that recognition of technical education qualification from distance education mode is consistent with National Policy of Education and should be allowed by using Study Learning Material for theory component, face-to-face / e-learning for interaction and compulsory practical component for development of requisite skill. Regular face-to-face counselling sessions during weekends should be used for clarification and removal of doubts. Laboratory experiments could be conducted in AICTE recognized colleges taking into account the physical infrastructure and human resource required for the purpose.
Higher Education in our country has experienced substantial growth however has failed to scale upto the required strengths more so because it is highly dependent on conventional education, which is highly capital-intensive. The need of the hour is to develop an alternative mode of education to supplement the conventional education system, through policy initiatives to facilitate the expansion of higher education sector for the fulfillment of aspirations of those who are deprived of pursuing it for whatever reason and recognising the qualifications earned through distance education for employability is certainly one of such policy initiatives.
The Notification reads as under:
“The central government hereby notifies that all the degrees/diplomas/certificates including technical education degrees and diplomas awarded through open and distance learning mode of education by the universities established by an Act of Parliament or state legislature, institutions deemed to be universities under section 3 of the UGC Act 1956 and Institution of National Importance declared under an Act of Parliament stand automatically recognised for the purpose of employment to posts and services under the central government provided they have been approved by the UGC”
The proposed Distance Education Council Bill, 2014 also makes provisions for technical education within the scope of Distance Education and the proposed Council has representations from AICTE and other technical / professional regulators.
This is a big step towards encouragement of distance education in the country and so also to alleviate doubts relating to the recognition of distance education qualification. It is also consistent with National Policy of Education, as present rigid entry requirements to formal courses restricting the access of a large segment of people to technical and managerial education is restricting the GER and therefore programmes through open and distance- learning processes, including use of the mass media should be encouraged and one of the means of encouragement is to recognise the qualifications earned through distance education mode.