SHRINKING DISTANCE MODE EDUCATION

KU plans to reduce B Ed intake capacity, draws concern from academicians

Greater Kashmir / IMRAN MUZAFFAR
Publish Date: Dec 11 2012 12:00PM

Srinagar, Dec 10: At a time when Bachelors of Education is prerequisite for teacher’s job and many aspirants who cannot afford to pursue the B Ed in regular mode had been banking on the course through Kashmir University’s Department Distance Education, the KU is feared to reduce the intake.
 Highly placed sources said the decision in this regard is likely to be taken this week at a high level meeting.
 The move could deprive thousands of the B Ed aspirants of pursuing the in-demand degree course.  But the decision can prove a blessing in disguise for private B Ed colleges, and other universities, which eye the annual market worth millions of rupees. Read on:

THE ISSUE
 Given the growing demand for the B Ed in job markets, experts said the “need of the hour is to enhance gross enrolment ratio through distance mode.”
 “There are many candidates who are working in government/private sector and aspire to go for higher studies but because of their daily assignments cannot do so,” said an expert adding “Every year thousands of graduates fail to qualify the PG  admission entrance tests for regular courses but still desire to pursue higher studies.”
 “Besides, there are thousands of students who come from weaker sections of the society and cannot afford to pay high tuition fee in the private institutions. Distance Education is the only hope for them,” said a retired KU professor. 

THE SHRINKING VISION
 But in its 36th year of existence, the Department of Distance Education KU, has decided to shrink the intake. This is despite the fact that of the ten thousand odd annual admissions, 60% are catered by B Ed programme alone. 
 The comparison with other universities reveals a dismal picture: The Jammu University has crossed sixteen thousand mark in its enrolment while the distance and open learning offered by University of Delhi has crossed 80,000 in its enrolment. As about Directorate of Distance Education Mudarai Kamraj University, observers said it, has crossed two lakh mark in its enrolment and all its programmes are approved by Distance Education Council. But the KU lags behind. And instead of taking measures to improve the services, it plans to reduce the intake.

SHRINKING AGAINST PHILOSOPHY
 Experts said: “Restricting and shrinking admission through distance mode is against the philosophy of open and distance learning.”
 “Students who are denied admission through distance mode might land in unauthorized study centres or will be left with no options but to opt for private colleges which charge heavily,” said the experts.
 “In short, restricting admission through distance mode shall promote the growth of private educational sector and widen the gulf between haves and have-nots,” they added.

KU SPEAKS
 A senior official in the KU said the matter was to be discussed this week at a high level meeting. “As of now we have not decided anything but the decision is expected soon,” she said, requesting not to be named. Despite repeated attempts the KU PRO could not be contacted for comments.