Open Letter February 2010

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Open Letter February 2010



    The Open University and Distance Education Systems all over the worldsupport extensive research portfolios and front-ranking researchcommunities. This is done through quality in-house research and effectivenetworking and collaborations with renowned research institutes. The IndiraGandhi National Open University Act, in the First Schedule, under the objects ofthe University, inter alia, provides for the promotion of Acquisition of knowledgein a rapidly developing and changing society and to continually offeropportunities for upgrading knowledge in the context of innovations, researchand discovery in all fields of human endeavours. The various schemes of IGNOUand the Distance Education Council (DEC) have contributed to the emergence ofthe University as a world leader in systemicresearch in the area of Open and Distance Learning(ODL) Pedagogy. These include minor and majorresearch schemes, study leave for staff toundertake research at the doctoral and post-doctoral levels, sabbatical leave, facilitation ofparticipation in national and international researchconferences, the setting up of special institutes likethe Staff Training and Research in DistanceEducation (STRIDE), the National Centre forInnovations in Distance Education (NCIDE), theNational Centre for Disability Studies (NCDS), theChair for Sustainable Development, the Researchand Teaching Assistantship (RTA) scheme for highly meritorious full-time post-graduates and the setting up of the statutory Research Council and theResearch Unit. Introduced in 2008, the RTA scheme has attracted a large number of

    extremely bright and meritorious post-graduates to undertake full-time doctoralresearch, leading to Ph.D. degrees in their own domain areas, along withmandatory training in ODL technologies in the related subject. Most rigorousand globally acceptable quality assurance mechanisms like publication of atleast one original research paper in a peer-reviewed and high-impact journal,participation and presentation in research conferences, course works anddevelopment of a technology-enabled teaching module are prerequisites forsubmission of Ph.D. thesis under this scheme. This innovative scheme will helpin the creation of a pool of talented researchers with nurtured aptitude andcapabilities for teaching at the University level.While higher education establishments and governments focus on Ph.D.

    programmes, there is also great concern and apprehension about the poorquality of the M.Phil. and Ph.D. programmes offered in large numbers by someinstitutions misusing the autonomy and the concept of distance education. Strictenforcement of quality criteria, following international benchmarks in research,is the only way to curb such undesirable practices. Quality research of highimpact happening in renowned Open University and Distance Education Systemsshould be supported and encouraged to set national benchmarks in this area.We cannot afford to take a stand that the Open University and DistanceEducation System will not be able to provide the facilities and ambience for highquality research. State-of-the-art research laboratories, even in sophisticatedscience and technology areas, are available in the Open University System. Many Open Universities in the world, like the UK Open University, the Open

    University of Netherlands and Hong Kong Open University, support extensivedoctoral and post-doctoral research. They have excellent research portfoliosand vibrant research communities which are enhanced through collaborationswith top-ranking research institutions worldwide. In addition to the key-discipline-based research units, they have established highly relevant majorcross-disciplinary research establishments. In fact, the UK Open University isnot only No. 1 in the mandatory Annual Student Satisfaction Survey there, italso ranks very high in the mandatory Research Assessment Exercise (RAE).IGNOU is proud of the fact that its systemic research feeds directly into thecontent of its world-leading teaching programmes. The University is committedto utilise its large pool of academics with extensive research experience totrain young researchers, in both systemic research and discipline-basedresearch of the highest quality. Achieving high levels of research performance in discipline-based research

    as well as in systemic research is the target of IGNOU in this Decade ofInnovation.



    Breaking the Shackles

    Empowering Women

    IN FOCUS: Prisonerswelcome the free

    education initiative byIGNOU that could helpthem return to themainstream of life

    empowered with qualityeducation

    NEWS SCAN ................07

    PASSING BY ................07

    SJ LECTURES ..............10

    NEWS UPDATE ............11



    MILESTONES ...............16

    GYAN DARSHAN ..........16

    8 SPOTLIGHT: More and more states are willing to emulate the IGNOU initiative for the anganwadiworkers in Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh

    IGNOU OPEN LETTER is Printed by Printek Grafix, 148-D,Pocket-F, GTB Enclave, Delhi-110093 and

    Published by Ravi Mohan, Chief Public Relations Officer, Indira Gandhi National Open University,

    Maidan Garhi. New Delhi 110068.Ph: +91-11-29535924-32; +91-11-29535062-65

    Fax: +91-11-29535933; E-mail:

    Managing Editor: Ravi MohanEditor: Surojit Mahalanobis

    Advisory Council:Prof P.R. Ramanujam, Prof Ramindar Singh

    Design and Production: IANS Publishing

    FROMthe vice chancellor

    V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai

  • IGNOU is the worlds largestuniversity, with its studentoutreach extending to 30 lakh,UNESCO has said. IGNOU is thelargest University in the world.Almost 30 lakh students in India and33 other countries study at IGNOU,which is also Indias NationalResource Center for Open andDistance Learning and a world leaderin distance education. Enrollments of nearly 30 lakh

    students and networks across the country making the best use of Information CommunicationTechnology (ICT) IGNOUsaccomplishments are recognisedworldwide, UNESCO Director-GeneralIrina G. Bokova said at a posting onthe UNESCO website. With the launch of EduSat (a

    satellite dedicated to education) in 2004,and the establishment of the Inter-University Consortium, IGNOU hasushered in a new era of technology-enabled education, she added.Delivering the Silver Jubilee Lecture

    titled Building Inclusive Knowledge

    Societies in a Globalised World at theUniversitys campus on January 11, theDirector-General said, We cannot thinkabout... inclusive globalisation withouteducation that is relevant to the world oftoday and accessible throughout life.While in India, she also met with Kapil

    Sibal, Minister of HRD and Chairperson of

    the Indian National Commission forUNESCO; S.M. Krishna, Union Minister of External Affairs; and Dr Karan Singh,Indias Representative on UNESCOsExecutive Board. The Director-General also visited IT

    companies in Bangalore involved in ICTfor education.

    IGNOU, UNESCOin adult educationI

    GNOU has launched a PG diploma

    programme, Participatory Adult

    Learning Documentation and

    Information Networking (PGDAE), in

    adult education. The programme, in

    collaboration with UNESCO and the

    Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), aims

    at promoting professional development

    in the area of adult education, with a

    focus on participatory adult learning,

    documentation and information

    networking. The fee is Rs 5,000.

    Admissions are open for the July 2010

    session and last date for submission of

    applications is April 30, 2010.


    IGNOU worlds largest university: UNESCO

    The Universitys Electronic MediaProduction Centre (EMPC) haslaunched six new FM radio stationson education. These will be in addition to the 31 radio stations the Universityalready operates.The six new Gyan Vani stations,

    launched by Minister of State forInformation and Broadcasting, ChoudhuryMohan Jatua, in New Delhi on February10, will be operational in Agra,Chandigarh, Jalandhar, Srinagar,Tiruchirapalli and Thiruvananthapuram. The FM radio stations aim to enhance

    and supplement the teaching-learningprocess by reaching out to learnersthrough a low-cost, popular mass mediumusing interactive formats. Vice Chancellor V.N. Rajasekharan

    Pillai said: Through Gyan Vani, studentscan call a toll-free number and getcounselled on different educationalmatters from experts of the NationalCouncil of Education, Research andTraining and NGOs working in the field.

    The EMPC also celebrated a decade ofthe launch of its educational TV channel,Gyan Darshan, on the occasion.A collaborative effort of IGNOU, Prasar

    Bharati, the Ministry of Human ResourceDevelopment and the Ministry ofInformation and Broadcasting, Gyan

    Darshan is a bouquet of four channels onvocational and technical education, highereducation and sustainable development. We appeal to the minister that the

    carriage fee for the transmission of thechannels on DTH be waived in our case,said K. Ravi Kanth, director of the EMPC.

    UNESCO D-G Irena Bokova with Union HRD

    Minister Kapil Sibal in New Delhi on January 11.

    From left, K. Ravi Kanth, director, Electronic Media Production Centre; VC Prof

    Pillai; MoS for Information & Broadcasting Choudhury Mohan Jatua; and former

    Prasar Bharati CEO, K.S. Sarma, at the launch of six new FM stations in New Delhi.

    IGNOU adds 6 FM radio stations to its bouquet

  • An education which does not teach us to discriminate between good and bad, toassimilate the one and eschew the other,is a misnomer. Mahatma Gandhi

    Rajesh Upadhyay is serving a lifesentence in the Netaji SubhashChandra Bose Central Jail,Jabalpur. He already holdsdegrees in science and law, but feelsthese may not be of much use when hefinally walks free. A specialised skill iswhat he thinks will help him when hereturns to life outside prison. Which iswhy he has enrolled in a computer literacyprogramme. The course will help me getemployed after my release, he says.

    For thousands of prisoners likeUpadhyay, interred in jails across thecountry, IGNOU has opened the gates tohigher education. It is an initiative that

    was launched in New Delhis Tihar Jail in1994, but in a special New Yearsgesture, the University has given theproject a major impetus by declaring that the education it offers to jailinmates will, henceforth, be free.

    All jail inmates in the country will now be able to access free and qualityeducation according to their choices. Thisis an opportunity offered to them toreturn to the mainstream of life withquality education and future developmentboth morally and vocationally, theUniversity said in a statement. Studentsdo not even have to pay examination orlate fees.

    They can enrol any time of the year,appear as and when they are ready totake their examinations and getcertificates which will ensure themvocational advantage as well as access to



    Breaking the ShacklesJail inmates havewelcomed the free education for prisonersinitiative by IGNOUwhich could help them return to the mainstream oflife with qualityeducation andfuture development,both morally andvocationally

  • quality life, the statement said.The results of the new initiative are

    already visible in Jabalpur, where theUniversity has opened a Special StudyCentre inside the Central Jail. As many as 115 prisoners havetaken admission to variousprogrammes in the academicsession that commenced inJanuary this year.

    This unique move willchange the way people lookat jail inmates, and viceversa, believes Dr. SomasiSrinivas, Regional Director,Jabalpur, who has scheduledCounselling Sessions in theJabalpur Special Centretwice a week, on Mondaysand Tuesdays.

    Jabalpur JailSuperintendent GopalTamraka can only agree.IGNOUs decision to providefree education has raisedthe hope of prisoners frompoor backgrounds. They cannow dream of highereducation without payingfees for programmes or for

    purchasing books, says Tamraka.IGNOUs Regional Centre, Cochin, is

    also gearing up for a surge in students.Through its network of Special StudyCentres under the Council of NGOs ofRural India (CNRI), it had enrolled 57 jail inmates for the Computer LiteracyProgramme (CLP) in 2008. Thirty-four jail inmates from Central jail,Thiruvananthapuram, and 23 prisonersfrom sub jail, Kozhikode, took admissionin CLP. Forty-one jail inmates successfullycompleted the programme and were givencertificates.

    But now, there is greater interest inthe programmes on offer as they arefree. The Universitys decision to providefree education to convicts will result in asubstantial enrolment for differentprogrammes from this years session,says Dr K.S.D. Nair, Regional Director,Cochin.

    In Jabalpur, of the 115 prisonersenrolled in short-term certificate courses,70 are in the Bachelor PreparatoryProgramme (BPP), of whom 20 arewomen inmates. On completion of theBPP, the jail inmates would be eligible for admission in degree courses, saysSrinivas.

    While 10 prisoners are enrolled in theCertificate in Disaster Management andCertificate in Human Rights programmes,15 are taking classes in CLP. Fiveinmates are pursuing the Certificate inFood and Nutrition programme, while fivewomen inmates are learning the ropesunder the Nutrition and Child Careprogramme.

    Word is clearly getting around. On

    January 15, the Haryana governmentinaugurated an IGNOU Study Centre inKarnal jail. This is an exemplary step by the state government to provideeducation to prisoners. We will make allefforts to ensure that a maximum numberof prisoners can be educated, saysAshok Sharma, Regional Director, Karnal.

    About 100 prisoners of Karnal jail willbe given admission in the first phase. TheJail Superintendent has been appointed ascoordinator of this Special Study Centre.

    Besides various undergraduate andpostgraduate programmes, manyvocational courses will also be started inthe coming months so that jail inmatescan easily earn their livelihood after they are freed, he adds. Karnal JailSuperintendent Jagjit Singh says it is thefirst prison in the state where educationwill be provided to the prisoners. Aprisoner who has attained age 18 can getadmission in the bachelors degreeprogramme after completing the six-month BPP, Singh notes.

    The story is similar in farawayMizoram. On January 12, 60 inmates ofCentral Jail, Aizawl, enrolled for the BPPduring a sensitisation-cum-spot admissiondrive (See box). Minister of State forHome R. Lalzirliana, who inaugurated theprogramme, encouraged inmates to gainas much as they could from the freeeducation gift from IGNOU. I want youto come out with dignity from the jail,Lalzirliana told the inmates.

    In Cuttack, Orissa, the University hasits Study Centres in two Central Jails Choudwar and Berhampur. Many inmateshave enrolled themselves with IGNOU

    and are pursuing theirprogrammes, says S.C.Ghosh, Choudwar JailWelfare Officer. Ghosh wasinstrumental in introducingthe prisoners to IGNOU after a thorough study of the facility in Tihar Jail.

    In Rajasthan, theUniversity has two SpecialStudy Centres at AjmerCentral...