Unesco guidelines way to go in distance education

April 3rd, 2008 - 6:09 pm ICT by admin  

Pune, April 3 (IANS) Distance education is growing in India and should continue to do so, but the country should follow Unesco guidelines to weed out unscrupulous players, a group of educationists said here Thursday. Educationists from countries like Britain, Australia, Malaysia and Canada who met here Thursday along with those from India to discuss the need and advantage of providing higher education through private distance educational institutes said India should follow Unesco guidelines to weed out unscrupulous players.

Organised by the Commonwealth Education Media Centre, New Delhi and the Symbiosis Centre for Distance Learning, Pune, the two-day conference will address how India can follow the example of developed countries that have succeeded in providing quality education through the private sector.

John Daniel, president and CEO of the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) in Vancouver, told reporters here: “I do not underestimate the challenges faced by the Indian government. What it should do to promote private open and distance education is to come up with a simpler framework because the private sector does not like uncertainty.”

Molly Lee, Unesco’s senior higher education specialist, said: “India should learn from countries like Malaysia. By implementing Unesco guidelines the country has completely eliminated any dubious player and now private distance education is really flourishing with students from China enrolling in millions.”

T.M Wong, deputy vice chancellor of Malaysia’s Wawasan Open University, said: “In Malaysia, before setting up shop, an institute has to first get accreditation. They cannot even advertise without mentioning their registration number on the ad.”

The two-day conference will see participation from 30 heads of various Indian universities as well as foreign delegates. A draft recommendation will be prepared highlighting the needs and the challenges of private open and distance learning educational institutions in India.

At present 17.5 million students are pursuing higher education through Indira Gandhi National Open University, which is 18 percent of the students enrolled for higher education in India.

There are 35 private open distance education centres in the country. Moreover, 15 state supported and 60 conventional universities in the country have departments that offer distance education.

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