Away from college
We are mostly acquainted with face-to-face teaching learning practices, that is, classroom-based education at the school, college and university levels. Over the past decades, there has emerged new teaching-learning methods, technologies and practices, one of them being distance education. In distance education, a student undergoes an academic programme without being in touch with the university and teachers. It is generally a learner-centred, multimedia-based educational delivery and interaction mode. Distance education aims to help those who have not been able to get formal education due to various reasons. Its aim is to provide cost-effective, quality education to large sections of our population including those living in the remote areas of the country and have no access to resources.
According to Mahendra Singh, Rector, Tribhuvan University, “The country’s oldest university and its affiliated colleges are carrying a very big load of student enrolment. To make a balance between quality education and mass education has become really difficult. So TU will start distance education in the field of Law, Humanities, Social Sciences and Management. So far, only the Education faculty is providing such a facility in its one-year B Ed programme.”
Some deans of TU have visited open universities of India and Pakistan. A special committee is working on a report to be submitted for the TU council meeting in July. TU plans to start a large scale nationwide distance education service from next year. According to Prof. Mana Prasad Wagle, Tribhuvan University, the faculty of education is proving the distance education in its one-year B Ed programme for the last four years. They have nine study centres from Ilam to Dadeldhura and the numbers of students are increasing every year. Wagle says, “We started with 40 students in the first year and we had more than 360 students enrolled last year”. He hopes that the number will rise to more than 500 this year. Wagle is happy to say that the result is good as compared to the face-to-face method. “ In the face to face teaching method success varies from 13-19 per cent where as in the case of distance education, the result is 35-60 per cent. Wagle gives the credit to the good monitoring and evaluation and other services provided by the centre.
There are 13 colleges affiliated to TU, in the faculty of education and nine campuses of them are running this programme countrywide. The faculty of education is self sufficient and meets the required costs and does not need extra budget. They are charging Rs 3,000 for the resources and other costs. One of the other institutions offering distance educations now in Nepal is ICA Partner Institution of Indira Gandi National Open University (IGNOU), New Delhi, India. Since 2002, they have been running academic programmes in various faculties in collaboration with IGNOU. They also conduct counselling sessions on Saturdays when the lecturers clarify the doubts and queries of the students. “Anybody from the rural parts can also be benefited,” says Biswajit Mukherjee, coordinator of ICA PI IGNOU.
Courses are offered from Certificate level to Masters level. Besides, they also have the Bachelor Preparatory Programme in which students over 18 years and without any other academic qualification can pursue this six-month course, thereby becoming eligible for graduate courses. Students can enrol twice a year for the January or July sessions in his study centre. Mukherjee says, “You can fulfil social, job and other obligations and still continue with the programme.” They are charging Rs.18, 400 per year for humanities and social sciences. For management, it is Rs 4,600 per subject and for computer science,18,500 per semester. Student evaluation is done 30 per cent from the assignments provided by the University and 70 per cent from exams hold twice a year in June and December, upervised by Embassy of India. The degrees and certifications awarded for the courses are recognised internationally by Commonwealth nations and many American Universities. The ministry of education is working on an umbrella act to legalise the concept of distance education. Kathmandu University has been accepting degrees awarded by this programme.