Thrust on distance learning


Guwahati: Assam has only 13 per cent enrolment rate in tertiary education, which is not enough for a developing state, an expert on distance education said here on Saturday.

Delivering the keynote address at an international conference on Development Intervention and Open Learning for Empowering and Transforming Society, the president of Commonwealth of Learning, Canada, Asha Singh Kanwar, said: "The national gross enrolment ratio in tertiary education has increased to 27 per cent but it is far short of the average of 40 to 70 per cent found in rich countries. In Assam, the rate drops to about 13 per cent which is only half of the national average. This is similar to the 13.7 per cent rate found among Scheduled Tribe people. In case of Scheduled Caste people, the rate is 19 per cent which is also below the national rate. The World Bank said for a country to achieve sustainable development, tertiary enrolment should be 40 to 50 per cent."

The conference was organised by the Krishna Kanta Handiqui State Open University.

Kanwar said: "India is a young country where the number of young people between 15 and 34 years has increased in the last 30 years. The median age of the Indian population is about 27 years. The unemployment figure of the youths is as high as 10 per cent. But how can we provide learning that leads to more livelihood opportunities for young people? The IT technology may be a wayto mitigate the problem. Now India has 87 per cent mobile phone subscribers and it is an effective way of distance education."

Kanwar said enrolment of women in Indian Open Universities isalmost achieving parity with that of men.

Vice-chancellor Hitesh Deka said the main objective# of the conference is to develop concrete ideas on "role of developmental interventions and open learning in addressing relevant social challenges".

By Manash Pratim Dutta