Importance of Distance Education in India
After independence, India had made tremendous progress in the field of education, though mostly quantitative in nature. Earlier, education was available only to the elites in society, and a large majority of poor and marginalized people remained illiterate. Political considerations have an important role in the expansion of higher education, especially at the state level. The state government experienced tremendous pressure from the public to establish more and more colleges and universities. In a democratic society, even the strong governments find it very difficult to resist such pressures and are compelled to succumb to the same. These considerations have led to fast expansion of higher education in our country, which in turn, have adverse impact upon its quality. Therefore, in order to insure access and education of a reasonably good quality, we must think of some alternative system capable of supplementing the role of conventional system, and distance education is one of such alternatives.
The distance education mode was adopted by many universities to meet the ever-growing demand of those students who lacked means to pursue higher education through the regular stream. Also, there were economic constraints. Consequently, many universities in India in various regions started correspondence courses or programs by providing notes, developing a system of evaluation of response sheets. The success of these courses led to the establishment of Indira Gandhi National Open University, which is now rated as one of the best distance courses university in the world.
Due to limitations of the formal system of education, policy makers were attracted towards non-conventional modes of education for providing non-residential studies like correspondence courses. The Distance Education mode, in which it is not necessary to bring all the students together to listen to the face-to-face lectures, was considered worthwhile. However in distance education system, the provision of occasional meetings between the teachers and the student is made. These meetings are popularly known as Personal Contact Programmes (PCPs). The learners receive their study material through postal services for study at their home or workplace. The efforts of the students are supplemented by assignments, which are checked and evaluated by the concerned subject experts. So, Correspondence education is a piece and part of open learning. Distance education system is also known by some other common names like Correspondence Courses, Correspondence Education, Distance Education and External or Private Appearance etc. This system of education is suitable for the persons who wanted to enhance their qualifications but were not in a position to attend classes on a regular basis. Such distance courses proved a boon for the service persons as well as others desirous of pursuing higher education. As a result, a large number of in-service persons, professionals, entrepreneurs, job-less youth, school teachers, housewives and old aged free persons made a beeline for admission to distance education study programmes.
The term Distance Education received a formal recognition in 1982 when the four decades old International Council for Correspondence Education was renamed as the International Council for Distance Education. The old concept of distance education was exclusively associated with print material, while the new concept of distance education include supplementary material being used through non-print media, also such as radio, television, computers, laptops, Cd's, through projectors, video lessons and satellites. These institutions may be called the dual mode institutions. Now at present, India has two types of distance education institutions. They are 1. Correspondence courses institutions.
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