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Will the University Grants Commission's decision to approve graduate and diploma programme online impact regular courses? - Comment

A country which has the potential of becoming the world guru, to deliver the knowledge of enlightenment, so, firstly itís important to educate itself in order to be called as the preacher of the world.

We have aroused and still recovering from the condition of poverty, hunger, economic exclusion, social exclusion and educational exclusion and now we have boarded the ferry to change the very fortune of our nation. And for that itís important to bring the excluded personages into the very frame of higher education.

In India where we have 722 Universities against the National Knowledge Commissionís recommendations of 1500 universities due to which only 70% of the secondary school pass-outs are able to have the access to higher education in India. Out of that 722 Universities 360 are private institutions whose average yearly fee is INR 1,80,000 which is 4-5 times as compared to a Government institutions and this makes it difficult for economically backward groups to enrol for higher education. On the other hand we find females of low community and small towns/villages who are married at very early age after completing their secondary education and due to the burden of household works they are not able to go to a college and have to give up their dreams. Due to this at UG level only 47% women are enrolled and at diploma level the number has vastly degraded to 29% according to the reports of MHRD.

When we come to the state-wise census we find that the overall enrolment of students in the higher education is, Jharkhand 10.1%, Bihar 11.2%, Chhattisgarh 11.8%, West Bengal 15.0% and Odisha 15.4% etc. So, primarily for these and few more states it becomes important to bring in the innovative policy of online access to the higher education.

It is also believed that the population of India will overtake China and will become the most populated country with 1.6 bn. population by 2030. Where, it will be very difficult for the growing number to get into the higher educational forum.

In this context it becomes important for the educational institutions to bring in reformations to bring the excluded ones into the system for an overall development of the population and the country. The online graduate and diploma programme is meant for those, who have faced the exclusion because of the above facts. This will only improve the quality of education in India and will also give them the opportunity to open the ďwings of fireĒ and achieve their ambitions.

However, this decision of UGC is not in conflict with the regular diploma and graduate courses because in this system also there will be similar aspects of educational folds as compared to regular courses. Firstly, the online programme will be monitored via participation in asynchronous/synchronous discussions, assignment activity and programme involvement. Secondly, the analytics of Learning Management System shall be used for ensuring learnerís participation at least for 2 hours every fortnight. And thirdly, this online programmes requiring practical/laboratory courses as curriculum requirement shall not be permitted.

Government of India has initiated many Yojanas such as Skill India Mission, Make in India Campaign, Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana etc. and also so the Digital India campaign which is now bringing education in it. All these schemes will only flourish when the population is educated and have the higher access to education system and no one is left excluded from the frame and all these things are the steps towards the inclusive growth by enrolling the population in the higher education system.

The very idea of this online access to higher courses is to bring the gap closer between the inclusive and exclusive ones and jostle the countryís aim of becoming the full fledged developed nation in the coming years by driving on the shoulders of the skilfully educated, who will take the nation on the right direction. This will only bring the regular degree and online degree holders to match shoulder to shoulder and work for the development of the country with extra force and resources.

-Anuj Pandey