Advocacy Meeting in Open Schooling of Senior Decision Makers
From African Ministries of Education 9-13 September, 2002
Realising that human resource development is the key to economic
and social development, the developing countries are grappling to
devise strategies to provide quality education to their people. In
their national educational policies, the issues of access, equity
and equality are kept in forefront. Due to various socio-economic
factors and resource crunch, the developing countries are striving
to provide responses to multifaceted educational challenges.
The resolutions of the Jomtien Conference (1991) and the Dakar
Conference (2000) have prompted the developing countries to
intensify their efforts to achieve the goal of Education for All.
Among other things, these countries have been experimenting with
alternative strategies for reaching the unreached.
Two significant trends are inter-alia visible in the educational
strategies of developing countries.
- Inter-sectoral cooperation in educational endeavours. It is
being realized increasingly that the Education sector alone can not
cope with the task of human resource development.
- Inter-country cooperation in Education. The International
organizations like UNESCO, Commonwealth of Learning (COL), UNICEF,
World Bank, UNDP, UNFPA etc., are coming forward to provide forums
for developing countries for exchange of ideas and experiences to
hasten the process of Education for All.
The UNESCO-BREDA (Senegal) and the Commonwealth of Learning,
Canada joined hands to have dialogue with several Sub-Saharan
African Countries for evolving strategies to plan and implement
Open and Distance Learning Mode of Education as a significant
alternative system of education to meet the educational needs of
diverse groups of children and adults.
In order to give first hand experience of implementation of open
schooling programme in India to the stakeholders in Education in
the Sub-Saharan African Countries, the UNESCO-BREDA and COL
organized an Advocacy Meeting in Open Schooling of the Senior
Decision Makers from African Ministries of Education at the
National Institute of Open Schooling, New Delhi from 9 to 13
September, 2002. Besides detailed interaction with the NIOS faculty
on matters such as development of relevant and need based curricula
and self learning materials, modes of programme delivery,
teaching-learning strategies, training of personal, methods of
pupil evaluation and certification, life enrichment programmes and
innovative programmes such as ICT based On Demand Examination
System (ODES), the delegates from eleven African Countries
(Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Somalia,
Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe) could get opportunity to
visit some study centers of the NIOS, and the Indira Gandhi
National Open University (IGNOU), New Delhi.
A significant outcome of the Advocacy Meet was that the
delegates prepared Draft Frameworks for Promotion of Open Schooling
in their respective countries. The enlightened Inaugural Address by
Shri M.K. Kaw, former Secretary to the Government of India,
Ministry of Human Resource Development had set the tone of the
Advocacy Meet in right direction which was instrumental to
examining the crucial issues pertaining to promotion of Open
Schooling in the developing countries. I am indebted to him for his
thought provoking ideas and suggestions.
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Mr. A.
Parsuramen, Director, UNESCO, BREDA (Senegal), Ms. Susan Phillips,
Education Specialist, Commonwealth of Learning (COL), Prof. Asha
Kanwar, UNESCO - BREDA and Mr. M. Tawfik, Director, UNESCO (New
Delhi) for their addresses and guidance and suggestions during the
I am extremely grateful to Shri S.K. Tripathi, Secretary to the
Government of India , Ministry of Human Resource Development for
delivering the valedictory address and giving valuable suggestions
for promotion of open schooling programme.
The support extended by the Commonwealth of Learning (COL),
Vancouver, Cananda and UNESCO - BREDA (Senegal) in planning and
organizing the International Meet has enabled the NIOS to realize
the objectives of the Meeting to its fullest extent. I would like
to express my great appreciation to these International
Organisations for their support in promoting the cause of open
The NIOS faculty and the organizing committee members deserve
special appreciation for their dedication and hard work.
18 September, 2002
1.1 Education is key to human development. It is fundamental to
all round development of human potential. It refines sensitivities
and perceptions that contribute to national cohesion, scientific
temper, independence of mind and spirit.
1.2 The goal of Education for All (EFA) has been a priority
agenda of the national governments. They are endeavouring to
provide education of good quality to all irrespective of any kind
of discrimination due to caste, creed, gender and place of birth.
The major concern in the field of education is to strike a balance
between equity, equality and quality issues.
1.3 Notwithstanding the spectacular development of educational
programmes, at various stages of education in developing countries,
millions of children continue to stay out of schooling system
because of various compulsions of life.
1.4 Due to several rigidities, the formal schooling system alone
cannot provide adequate and appropriate responses to various
educational challenges. Today the search for appropriate, economic
and effective alternative delivery systems is a basic requirement
for meeting the challenges of education at elementary and secondary
1.5 Optimal utilisation of open learning/schooling and distance
education mode, along with formal, non-formal and alternative
educational modalities, is imperative in view of the emerging
educational scenario. A conscious decision needs to be taken about
possible and appropriate integration of distance mode of learning
along with conventional methodologies.
1.6 The search for alternative schooling programmes has emerged
from the concern for providing minimum essentials levels of
education and relevant and need based education to all. In this
endeavour, the following distinctive aspects or concerns need to be
kept in view.
- Reaching out with education to unreached disadvantaged
population groups where conventional schools are not viable.
- Providing choice to students (and their parents) for what they
want to learn.
- Providing a safety net to school dropouts so that they do not
lapse into illiteracy.
- Providing education to those who cannot attend conventional
schools for a variety of social and economic reasons, as well as to
those who missed out and are overage.
2. Models of Open Learning/Open Schooling
Depending on the local infrastructural facilities, there could
be some models of open schooling. These models are described below
2.1 Correspondence Education: In this mode of
education, the course of study prescribed is broken up into a
number of modules or lessons that are sent by post to students by
Directorate of Correspondence Education. The print material used
under correspondence education is not necessarily
self-instructional in nature. The learners are required to study
the modules on their own. They can seek further guidance and
clarification through writing back to the Directorate of
Correspondence Education or to their designated study centres. Some
organisations dealing with correspondence education organise
periodic contact classes in the study centres. The students
enrolled under correspondence courses appear in examinations after
a specified period.
2.2 Distance Learning Model: A second mode of
distance education is one that makes use of multimedia approach to
dissemination of information. The steps for delivery of Distance
Learning Programmes comprise the following:
- Identification/assessment of educational needs of the client
- Development of curricula and Self-Learning Materials
- Development of supportive media programmes.
- Visualising and operationalisation of effective delivery
2.3 Use of ICT in Open Learning/Open Schooling:
Usually the delivery system under open learning/open schooling
- Printed Self-Learning Material (SLM)
- Personal Contact Programme (PCP)
- Audio and Video Programmes
Use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has made
the delivery system effective. The National Institute of Open
Schooling (India) has started using ICT in Delivery System in the
- Making course material available on CD.
- Regular Telecast of course related programmes and other
- Making available on NIOS website significant organisational
information and certain other useful informational inputs.
- Voice-mail system as ICT based student support service
- ICT based On-Demand Examination System (ODES) to give freedom
to learner to take examination in the subjects of his/her choice
whenever he/she feels confident in taking examination.
2.4 Mix of Models of Open Schooling:
- Keeping in view the availability of infrastructural facilities,
finance and educational needs of clients etc, each country may
visualise meticulously a mix of different models of open
- Open schooling is cost effective. It reduces the labour
intensive cost of education since it reduces the active
participation of teacher. It generally utilises the existing
infrastructure of formal schools with part-time use of formal
school teachers at modest expenditure.
3. Instructional Process under Open Schooling Programme
3.1 Some common elements in the Open Schooling Framework
are as follows.
- Self-study print material
- Modular format
- Each module is a self-contained study unit
- Carefully structured presentation designed to make learning
easy and effective.
- Use of electronic media
- Radio and TV as cheaper mode of technology to supplement the
- In some cases, more effective interactive technologies, like,
audio and video conferencing, tele-conferencing, interactive
television and computer managed learning are also used.
- Face-to- Face Contact Classes
- Preplanned occasional face-to face contact programmes
complement self-study. Contact sessions are devoted to
- Laboratory experiments for science lessons
- Peer group learning.
- Diagnostic and Remedial programmes
- Problem solving or removal of difficulties
- Student Counselling
- Advising students to choose right combination of subjects
- Monitoring the progress of learning
- Monitoring Mechanism
- In-text questions to monitor progress within the module.
- Assignments and response sheets pertaining to each course.
- Assessment and comments of tutor on the Assignments (Tutor
Marked Assignment - TMA)
- For TMA, use of postal mode of communication, Fax and
4. Student Support Services
Student Support Services aim at helping students to learn.
Significant components of these services are as follows.
- Pre-Student Support
- Informing about programmes and methods used in open
- Publicity of open school programmes.
- Enrolment and Registration
- Registration through study centres to facilitate
- Advice and counseling for selecting courses
- Help for selecting courses provided through study centres.
- Ensuring timely availability of self-learning print materials
- Through mail
- Through study centres
- Personal contact programme
- Individualization of instruction.
- Considerable investment in the beginning to set up
infrastructure for open schooling programme.
- Government support is needed initially.
- As a welfare measure, a modest fee is taken from students as
cost of learning material and tuition fees. Cost of material
charged is generally on no profit no loss basis.
6. Organization and Management
- Academic Department mainly for development of curricula,
self-learning material, teaching - learning strategies and methods
of pupil evaluation.
- Central Administration including Accounts Branch
- Publication and Material Distribution Division.
- Examination Department
- Student Support Services Department (including admission,
enrollment, PCP, TMA, counseling).
7. Exploring Appropriate models of Open Schooling
7.1 Realising that the formal schooling system as a major
delivery system alone is not in a position to provide opportunities
for developmental and continuing education to those who have missed
opportunities to complete school education, the National
Governments may consider adopting/promoting the open schooling
system as a viable and effective alternative and complementary
education system for social reconstruction and renaissance and
specially for reaching the unreached through courses and progrmmes
of general, life enrichment and vocational education from primary
to pre-degree level.
7.2 The nation states in Africa may visualize meticulously
appropriate models of open schooling keeping in view the challenges
of education, availability of infrastructural facilities and
state-of-the-art in respect of ICT.
7.3 The National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS), India , has
adopted an effective and viable mix of open learning strategies.
These modes inter alia include:
- Identification of educational needs of client groups
- Development of relevant and need based curricula and
self-learning material for courses and programmes of general, life
enrichment and vocational education from primary to pre-degree
- Flexibility in chose of subjects: self-paced learning, no age
- Authority to examine and certify students for all courses.
- Learning strategies include self-learning material (SLM),
Personal Contact Programme (PCP) for diagnostic and remedial
measures and removal of difficulties, diagnostic and audio - video
programmes, and Tutor Marked Assignment.
- Open Basic Education Programme (Elementary Education) for
children and adults in partnership with NGOs with provision of
- Introducing a large number of vocational courses and some life
- Devising an ICT based On - Demand Examination System (ODES)
- At present at Open Basic Education level.
- To be extended soon at Secondary level.
- Setting up of a centre of excellence for training in open
schooling at international level. This has been named as the
International Centre for training in Open Schooling (ICTOS). This
centre is going to launch soon certificate and diploma courses in
- Transparency in examinations:
- Deputation of observers
- Complete computerisation and processing of results.
- Placement of Question Papers and Marking Scheme on Internet
immediately after the examinations are over.
- Placement of results of NIOS on internet (website
- Re-evaluation of answer scripts on request.
- Setting up of more than 1800 Study Centres and 10 Regional
Centres for effective delivery of NIOS programmes. The NIOS
Headquarter at New Delhi plans and implements the open schooling
7.4 The NIOS would be pleased to provide consultancy services to
National Governments for promotion of open schooling programmes on
mutually agreed terms.
II Methodology of the Advocacy Meet
The purpose of the five day Advocacy Meet was to orient the
Senior Decision Makers from eleven African Countries in Open
Schooling methodologies, apprising them about various parameters of
a successful system of open schooling and to equip them to prepare
models of open schooling to be implemented in their respective
The inaugural address by Shri M.K. Kaw, former Secretary to the
Government of India, Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD),
the Background Paper presented by Prof N.K. Ambasht, Chairman,
National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS), India and addresses by
Mr. Armoogum Parsuramen, Director UNESCO-BREDA (Senegal), Mr M.
Tawfik, Director, UNESCO Office, New Delhi, and Ms Susan E.
Phillips, Education Specialist, Commonwealth of Learning, Canada
set the agenda of this international meet in motion.
After the inaugural session, presentations were made by
delegates from eleven Sub-Saharan African countries viz., Botswana
, Ethiopia , Kenya , Malawi , Mozambique , Nigeria , Somalia ,
Swaziland , Tanzania , Uganda , and Zimbabwe . The presentations
covered informational inputs about (i) educational scenario, (ii)
challenges of education, (iii) responses visualised for meeting the
educational challenges with special reference to the needs of the
open schooling system as alternative complementary system of school
The presentatives were followed by detailed presentations by the
faculty of the NIOS (India) on related various themes.
During each presentation, live interaction was made through
questions and answers and observations/suggestions. This enabled
the delegates and the host country ( India ) to have deep insight
into the educational challenges, responses planned and future
It was planned that the delegates from African countries will
develop need based draft framework for promotion of open schooling.
In order to facilitate this developmental activity, an NIOS faculty
member was attached with each foreign delegate. After detailed
interaction and deliberations, the participating countries
developed their frameworks and plans of action for introducing
/promoting open schooling programme in their respective countries.
This framework included informational inputs on (i)educational
scenario, (ii) imperatives for open schooling, (iii) proposed model
for open schooling progrmme, (iv) organisation and management of
open schooling programme, and (v) need for consultancy services,
particularly from India bilaterally as also through financial and
other assistance from international agencies, specially from
UNESCO-BREDA and COL. Based on the (i) deliberations in various
sessions, (ii) frameworks developed by the participating countries,
and (iii) interactions with delegates from the international
agencies, draft recommendations of the conference were finalised
and presented in the penultimate session on 13 September, 2002 .
Based on the observations and suggestions on the draft
recommendations, the Recommendations of the Advocacy meet were
finalised and presented by Prof. Asha Kanwar, UNESCO-BREDA (
The Valedictory session was presided over by Shri S.K. Tripathi,
Secretary to the Government of India , Ministry of Human Resource
Development (MHRD). In this session, a brief presentation about the
work done in the conference was made by Shri J.P. Shourie, Senior
Executive Officer, NIOS. Delegates from Botswana (Mr. Daniel Tau)
and Tanzia (Mr. Charles Philemon) gave their impressions about
various aspects of the Advocacy Meet. The Valedictory address was
delivered by the Education Secretary, MHRD. The valedictory session
was also addressed by Prof. Asha Kanwar, UNESCO-BREDA, Ms. Sushan
Phillips, COL and Prof. N.K. Ambasht, Chairman, NIOS. Shri S.S.
Gill, Secretary, NIOS gave welcome address and Dr Kuldeep Agarwal,
Director (Academic), NIOS proposed a vote of thanks.
A copy of the programme schedule is at Annexure-1. A list of
Delegates from African countries and other participants is at
Annexure - 2.
A precise account of presentations, issues discussed,
observation and suggestions given and Recommendations of the
Advocacy Meet is given in the following pages.
Overview of the Advocacy Meeting
The inaugural function started with lighting of lamp by the
Shri M.K. Kaw, former Secretary to the Government of India ,
Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD). This was followed by
presentation of bouquets to the dignitaries.
Dr. Kuldeep Agarwal, Director (Acad.), NIOS welcomed the Chief
Guest and the galaxy of educationists from UNESCO-BREDA , COL and
African countries. Ms. Susan E. Phillips, Education Specialist, COL
conveyed the good wishes of Mr. Dhanaraja Gajarajan, President and
CEO, COL for success of the Advocacy Meet. She apprised the
delegates that it was for the first time that UNESCO-BREDA (
Senegal ) joined hands with COL , Canada and NIOS, New Delhi (
India ) to convene this international meet of paramount importance
for universalisation of school education in African Countries by
making appropriate use of cost effective distance education and
open learning mode of education. The text of speech of Ms. Susan E.
Phillips is at Annexure - 3.2.
Mr. A. Pursuramen, Director, UNESCO-BREDA emphasized the need of
international cooperation and sharing of experiences. He
appreciated the innovative programmes being visualized and
operationalised by India in the area of Open Schooling and felt
that this model could be adopted or adapted by the Sub-Saharan
African countries in their endeavours for reaching the unreached.
The present meet is a part of UNESCO's initiative to accelerate and
enhance the provision of secondary education by drawing on
available best practices. Our partner in this enterprise is the
Commonwealth of Learning , an organization that is committed to
improving access to quality relevant educational opportunities
through open and distance technology-mediated learning methods. The
text of the speech of Mr. A. Parsuramen is at Annexure - 3.3.
Mr. M. M. Tawfik, Director, UNESCO ( Delhi ), emphasized the
need for South-South Cooperation for the noble course of access,
equity and equality in education. The text of the speech of Mr.
Tawfik at Annexure - 3.4.
Prof. N.K. Ambasht, Chairman, NIOS, New Delhi gave an overview
of the Indian model of Open Schooling which is a mix of
self-learning materials and use of media and ICT. This model is
cost-effective and provides for safety net to school drop-outs and
disadvantaged population by providing them quality school education
with in-built flexibilities. Highlights of presentation of Prof.
N.K. Ambasht are reflected in the introductory chapter of this
In his inaugural address, Shri M.K. Kaw, Former Education
Secretary, MHRD emphasized the need to remove the odium that gets
attached to those whose pass out from open schooling system which
could happen if the teaching quality was superb, examination system
beyond question and if all the road blocks to their entry into
colleges, universities and professional institutions were removed.
Open Schooling is the only way poor countries can manage to send
all eligible children to school and deserve attention of all senior
decision makers. Certain other highlights of the inaugural address
of Shri M.K. Kaw are as follows:
- India has brought forward legislation to make the right to free
and compulsory elementary education into a fundamental right under
- A massive programme called 'Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan' has been
launched which promises to send every child to school or other
institution of learning by the year 2003, so that he/she completes
eight years of schooling by 2011.
- The open schooling system attempts to fill the gap between the
numbers that need to be put into school and the numbers that
actually go. The system would also provide opportunities for
education to those who missed the bus when they were young and
would like to acquire qualifications now.
- The On Demand Examination System (ODES) visualized by Prof.
N.K. Ambasht, Chairman NIOS, is an exciting idea of a system where
any student can appear in any subject at any place at any
The text of the speech of Shri M.K. Kaw is at Annexure 3.1.
After the inaugural session, presentations were made by
delegates from the African Countries ( Botswana , Ethiopia , Kenya
, Malawi , Mozambique , Nigeria , Somaliland , Swaziland , Tanzania
, Uganda , Zimbabwe ). The presentations included geographical and
demographic situations, education scenario, challenges of education
and strategies visualized to search responses and future
In order to give exhaustive view of open schooling system of
NIOS, India and its operationalisation, presentations were made by
NIOS officers on the following topics:
- Introduction to Open and Distance Learning/Schooling.
- Management and Organizational Structure of NIOS.
- Curriculum Design and Courses offered by NIOS.
- Development of Self Learning Materials (SLM) both print and
- Productions and distribution of instructional materials and
- Evaluation programme in NIOS including Tutor Marked Assignments
(TMA), Conduct of Public Examinations and Certification.
A lively discussion took place during the above mentioned
presentations. In response to queries, necessary informational
inputs were provided.
In order to give exposure of implementation of open learning and
distance education programme at the school stage and higher
education stage, study visits of delegates of Sub-Saharan African
Countries were arranged. The following institutions were
- Akshay Pratishthan, a Special Accredited Institution for
Education of Disadvantaged (SAIED).
- Vasant Valley School , New Delhi , an Accredited Academic
Institution (AI) of NIOS.
- Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), New Delhi, an
apex university in open learning and distance education in