Know all about Open and Distance learning (ODL) from Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), Delhi.
The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) takes education to the ‘unreached’ segments of the population — not just those in the remote corners of the country but also to people in Bollywood (actor Deepika Padukone registered for a B.A Sociology programme in 2005.) It’s also meant for those keen on professional development while working and for the growing ranks of “digital natives who prefer distance modality to the four-walled regimen,” elaborates M Aslam, vice chancellor, IGNOU.
“Even if a student joins the formal, conventional system of education at the graduation level, he can still be a student of the ODL (Open and Distance Learning) system,” says Aslam, adding that a B.A with Diploma in a chosen area could improve his employability. Created by an act of Parliament in 1985, IGNOU started two courses in 1987, a diploma in management and a diploma in distance education. Today, the university has more than 2.7 million active students — as compared to 4,528 in 1987 — enrolled in 400 programmes, including 3500 courses at certificate, diploma, degree and doctoral levels, in disciplines ranging from the traditional and classical to the emerging and offbeat. Almost all courses are delivered through the English and Hindi medium except the certificate in food and nutrition, which is in 14 languages.
The university now has 21 schools of studies; some centres; a network of 67 regional centres, including 47 directly connected to IGNOU, nine in the north-east, six for the army, four for the navy and one Assam Rifles centre; about 3,240 study centres and 82 overseas centres. It has 48,000 teachers from the conventional system who conduct counselling sessions where students can come for doubt-removal and peer interaction as well, says Aslam.
From the railways to civil services: I am from a middle-class family. My father is an ayurvedic doctor doing private practice and my mother is a housewife. After my Class 10, I was selected for a railway commercial vocational course. This was a unique scheme by the Indian Railways to recruit young people as commercial clerks and ticket collectors to improve its efficiency and service delivery. After successful completion of the course, there was an offer of appointment as a commercial clerk or ticket collector. I joined Siuri station of Asansol Division of Eastern railway in June 2004. Since I was working and did not have the option of joining a regular course, I opted for IGNOU. I did my BA (Hindi literature) in 2003-06 with 70.73 % marks from IGNOU and then MA (Hindi literature) and MA (public policy) from the same university.
There were other options for open education, but I choose IGNOU because of the good quality of its study material. What did I like (or didn’t like) about pursuing BA through open mode or IGNOU? I missed not being in a college but I was on my own and I had a lot of flexibility for my studies and exams. The whole experience was enriching. I was living three lives together – employee, BA student and civil services aspirant and I was able to manage my time due to the flexibility of the open learning system.
The quality of material and curricula was very good as each and every book was written by a team of distinguished writers of that field. Student support service was good. Though my study centre was in Muzaffarpur in Bihar, I took help of a study centre of my place of work (Siuri). IGNOU has put in hard work since then to improve its study centre based on students’ feedback. I did not get time for contact classes — hardly attended two or three. I got the 45th rank in Civil Service Exam 2008 in my first attempt at the age of 22-and-a-half – Keshvendra Kumar, BA in Hindi, MA Hindi & MA Public Policy from IGNOU, now sub-collector at Thalassery in Kannur in Kerala and as MD, Aralam Farming Corporation.
As told to Rahat Bano
What’s on offer
The university has a network of centres for contact programmes to provide administrative and academic help to students. The centres organise counselling sessions based on the curricula at weekends.
The courses are delivered through multimedia platforms in the form of self-instructional print and audio/video material, radio and TV broadcast counselling/ tutoring, lab or hands-on work, video conferencing, interactive radio counselling, interactive CD-ROM and internet-based learning. IGNOU has 1.30 crore printed blocks, 1,562 audio programmes, 850 downlink centres and 3,482 video programmes. In addition to printed self-learning courseware, it airs educational and student support programmes through two Gyandarshan channels (via the DTH mode and webcasting) and 37 Gyan Vani FM stations. It also has a presence on video sharing website Youtube.
Programmes offered by IGNOU
Bachelor Preparatory Programme (BPP), BCA, BA also with major in Political Science, History, Economics, Mathematics, Public Administration, Philosophy, Psychology, Sociology, English, Hindi and Urdu; B.Com; B.Sc also with major in Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, Zoology and Botany; B.A Tourism Studies; Bachelor of Social Work; B.Sc (Hons) Optometry and Ophthalmic Techniques; B.B.A. Retail; plus many Masters’, Certificate and Diploma courses.
IGNOU offers walk-in admission. An aspirant can go to the nearest regional centre and apply for admission. The application is considered for the following academic session.
The fee for UG courses varies from Rs. 1600/1700 to Rs. 8,000. It’s Rs. 850 for BPP
Prospects after IGNOU
There is a Campus Placement Cell at the varsity’s headquarters in New Delhi. The cell is “extensively engaged in interacting with the industry for engagement of IGNOU students in jobs,” says Aslam. IGNOU students “get a good settlement after completing their programmes. The regional directors tie up with leading corporate houses for promotion of IGNOU students in their jobs.
On-demand exam scheme is in place. IGNOU has study centres in every major city in India. These centres serve as exam centres by default. “However, keeping in view the number of examinees, IGNOU creates as many number of exam centres as possible to accommodate growing number of examinees,” says Aslam. This session, IGNOU has 800 exam centres in India.