Ministry of Human Resource and Development has issued a notification stating that all degrees, diplomas and certificates irrespective of the fact that they are related to technical education which have been awarded through the Open and distance learning education (ODL) stand recognized for the purpose of employment to posts and services under the central government provided that they are recognized by the University Grants Commission.
The Open and Distance Learning mode of education which is offered by far or less by all the universities would be considered as appropriate qualification for the jobs offered by the Central Government. The universities are those which have been established by an Act of Parliament or state legislature as well as the, institutions deemed to be universities under section 3 of UGC Act 1956 and institutions of national importance declared under an Act of Parliament.
In the year 2013 during the month of May, Distance Education Council (DEC), which is an erstwhile regulatory body for ODL was dissolved by then Government and since then efforts are being put in to bring a new regulator. But the experts have alerted that it is very much important to fill in the space first before proceeding with any major decision that could have large consequences.
Even Vivek Velankar who is an education counselor, was of the same view that on the initial basis the Government should set up an effective regulatory body and afterwards should take any step in reforming the existing ODL Mode of Learning. “The ODL mode of education offers a range of benefits for learners, but unfortunately some elements use this mode for their own vested interests by literally selling degrees. To avoid such practices, the government should bring in place an effective regulatory framework.”
This initiative on the part of the Ministry can be considered as major step towards the encouragement of ODL education. It will also eradicate a doubt which often comes in the minds of the people that distance education qualification is not recognized. A section of stakeholders were of the view that, “move would help meet the gross enrollment ratio (GER) targets, among other things.” Ravi Bhardwaj who is an educational lawyer said the step taken by the MHRD would surely meet the GER targets.
Manikrao Salunkhe vice-chancellor of the state-run Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University while talking about the move on the part of MHRD said, “At the global level, leading universities are promoting ODL mode of learning. In our country also this mode of education needs to gain more ground. The MHRD decision to uphold educational qualification of ODL learning for the central government jobs is expected to give much needed boost to this potentially mass mode of education.”
Further Ravi Bhardwaj added, “Higher education in our country has experienced substantial growth but has failed to gain the required strength more so because it is 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 system of higher education through policy initiatives to facilitate expansion of higher education sector and recognize the qualifications earned through distance education for employability.”