The emergence of Open and Distance Learning (ODL) system has
been a phenomenal evolution in the history of educational
Development towards the later half of the twentieth century. While
the conventional system continues to be the mainstream of
educational transaction, it has its own limitations with regard to
expansion, access, equity and cost effectiveness.
The revolution brought about by the growth in Information and
Communication Technology (ICT) has greatly facilitated the
expansion of Open and Distance Learning (ODL) system and permitted
adopting a flexible, constructivist, learner friendly and
multi-perspective approach to teaching learning process.
The Open and Distance Learning (ODL) system is a new paradigm
with some elements of shift such as :
- From classroom to anywhere,
- From teacher centric to learner centric,
- From teacher as an instructor to teacher as a facilitator,
- From mainly oral instructions to technology aived
- From fixed time to anytime learning instruction,
- From "you learn what we offer" to "we offer what you want to
- From education as one time activity to education as life long
The Open and Distance Learning (ODL) system, during the course
of its journey through few decades in India, has seen many stages
of Development in teaching and learning moves/ material and in its
delivery mechanisms against the background of unprecedented
Development of Communication Technology vis-à-vis shrinking
resources of education.
In fact, the ODL system has been gaining wide popularity over
the years in India and across the globe since it provides an
opportunity to all those who are unable to pursue learning through
The ODL system aims to:
- provide an opportunity for education for all aspirants
including those in service, women, adults, physically and mentally
challenged, staging in remote areas etc.,
- allow self paced learning,
- provide innovative and flexible education,
- provide learning material which are self-explanatory,
user-friendly and updated in content.
- provide opportunity for a number of diverse
courses-professional, technical, vocational and general,
- cater to the needs of certification, education, knowledge,
skill up gradation etc.,
- provide regular counseling and other appropriate learning
support through networks of Study Centres, and
- in corporate new technology, satellite communication,
networking, internet, e-mail for access to learners.
In other words, ODL democratizes education, offers need based
academic programmes, promotes and takes quality education to
people's doorsteps. It sets and maintains standards clubbed with
relaxed entry and exit regulations besides providing flexibility in
selection of courses, place of study and examinations with full
freedom to pursue the courses at a self-determined pace.
Demographic, socio- economic, technology dominated approach and
cost and cost-effectiveness are the reasons for the fast growth and
success of the system.
The present trend suggests a vast scope for capacity enhancement
of the ODL system. It would thus require additional infrastructure
and ICT support. The greater use of new ICT is supportive of the
paradigm shifts in educati9on sector. Learners of the future will
not be passive recipients but active processors of information and
consumers of varied knowledge products paradigm shifts in education
has implication on learner's autonomy- it is becoming not only
possible but also a passion for today's learners to select Courses
and Curriculum from anywhere in the world.
The Open and Distance Learning (ODL) system has been the key
dispersal agent in the movement towards a post-industrial society
characterized by globalization ODL will be the mainstream of
education in not too Distance future.
School education is an important segment of the total
educational system contributing significantly to the individual as
well as national Development processes. So far, formal schooling
has been playing a major role in educating the children in the age
group 6- 18years. However, due to rigidities of the formal
schooling system, quite a large number of school-going -age
children drop out at various stages of school education. Moreover,
Due to socio economic and other reasons, many children belonging to
disadvantaged sections of the society are not able to take
advantage of the formal schooling system. Today the major
challenges that India faces in the educational arena are:
- the challenge of number
- the challenge of credibility, and
- the challenge of quality.
The major concerns are to :-
- meet the educational needs of Disadvantaged children,
- provide wider choice of educational programmes to
- provide a 'safety net' to school Drop-outs so that they do not
lapse into illiteracy and
- Provide education to those who cannot attend conventional
school for a variety of socio-economic reasons, as well as to those
who missed opportunities to complete school and Developmental
In search of solutions to the emerging educational concerns, the
ODL system at school level has been adopted which gave rise to the
evolution of Open Schooling system in the country.
Open Schooling Scenario
In India, Open Schooling programmes are being offered by the
National Institute of Open School and eleven State Open Schools
(Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamilnadu, Madhya
Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, West Bengal, Jammu &
Kashmir). Other states viz, Assam, Bihar , Chhattisgarh, Gujarat,
Maharashtra, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal are in the
process ofssetting up state Open Schools (SOSs.)
Although the NIOS acts as an apex National Resource Organisation
in Open Schooling along with its programme Delivery role, it cannot
increase its enrolment beyond certain limits. The major
responsibility of offering Open Schooling courses has to be assumed
by SoSs as the learners would generally like to study and appear in
examinations through regional mediums.
NIOS with current enrolment of about 1.3 million learners has
emerged as the largest Open Schooling system in the world. However,
the picturer at the level of state Open Schools (SOSs) is not rosy.
The total current enrolment in IO SOSs is about 0.5 million only.
It may be mentioned that about 30.5 million children in the age
group 6-14 years and about 65.00 million youth the age group 14-18
years are out of school. Under this circumstance, both formal
schooling and open schooling system of education are required to
meet the challenge of education for all (EFA).
At the international level, some Developing countries in Asia
and Africa have started open schooling programmes. However, several
Developing countries facing similar challenges of providing
educational opportunities to all have not so far introduced such
system of open schooling.
NIOS has been organizing advocacy programmes for educational
planners and administrators of some Asian and African countries.
NIOS has helped some of the countries in formulating project
Designs for setting up Open Schools in their respective countries.
There is a need to discuss frequently at national as well as
international level Level the issues related to promotion of open
- Reputed Educationists.
- Educational planners and administrators from States of
- International Experts.
- Representatives from apex institutions within and outside
- Representatives from COL.
Themes of the Conference
The themes of the conference are as under:
- Status of Open Schooling in India and abroad.
- Policies and programmes of Governments for promotion of open
- Quality Assurance in Open Schooling System.
- Vocational Education: Significance for Open Schooling.
- Research in Open Schooling: Prospects and priority Areas.
- ICT in Open Schooling.
- Future approach to Open Schooling
CIDADE DE BEACH RESORT, Vainguinim, Beach Goa, India
As the educational planners and administrators from India and
abroad are the chief participants, it is expected that the cause of
Open Schooling would receive a fillip. The need assessment studies
would, it is expected, reveal the need for setting up state Open
Many State Open Schools in India have introduced Secondary
Educational Courses. It is expected that these States would not
only strengthen the base by introducing Open Basic Education (OBE)
programme but would also provide further opportunities to those who
wish to complete their Secondary education. In other words,
learning opportunites beprovided right from the primary to the
pre-Degree level through appropriate Open Schooling system.
Along with quantitative expansion qualitative improvement will
be stressed upon. It is expected that Open Schools would Develop
quality indicators and appraise their ownn system against such
It is expected that Deliberations on prospects of research may
open up an important Dialogue towards initiatives in home grown
research activities as well as cross country researches in open
schooling leading to sustenance of quality in programmes in the
Another important outcome would be the emergence of strategies
for skill Development and promotion of entrepreneurship among
learners through vocational education.
Another likely outcome is the emergence of viable
recommendations for promotion and expansion of Open Schooling in
India and abroad
The conference would be a mix of presentations in plenary
Sessions, panel and Open House Discussion and group sessions.