Ode to the ODL Guys
November 2010

Ode to the ODL Guys

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Indira Gandhi National Open University has instituted an award to celebrate the success of 100 achievers who owe it to the open and distance learning system

IGNOU jointly with Commonwealth of Learning (COL), Vancouver, Canada is organising the Sixth Pan Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning (PCF6) at Kochi during November, 2010.  The theme of this year's conference is “Access and Success in Learning: Global Development Perspective”. Befitting with the Silver Jubilee Year, IGNOU is hosting the PCF6. It is organised biannually by the Commonwealth of Learning to help developing nations improve access to quality education and training. PCF6 brings together 71-countries to explore applications of Open and Distance Learning in widening educational access, bridging the digital divide and advancing the social and economical development of communities and nation at large. The Conference will mainly showcase the experience of IGNOU and other Indian and international universities including distance education and open schooling to the world. It will also be an opportunity for the organisers to demonstrate its stake in expanding the human resource base in the country and abroad by producing the best pass outs in building the nation.

The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) in its Silver Jubilee year has created and achieved significant milestone in the field of education.  The University has set new standards in democratising higher education and further reaching to those, who still have no access to formal conventional education.  The University is known by its outreach and its role in reducing disparities in education by extending educational opportunities to the people at remote areas and marginalised sections of the society.

The Open and Distance Learning (ODL) System has shown a tremendous growth during the past few decades due to its unique feature of being a user-friendly system. In this system, learners are free to learn at their own pace and convenience while being placed away from their institutions. This uniqueness and ease of gaining knowledge have a pivotal role to play in facilitating today's emerging knowledge society. Today, almost half of the students enrolled in higher education are receiving education through the distance mode. In the wake of the millennium developmental goals, which emphasise on education for sustainable development, there is a need and demand for assigning the need based quality knowledge and skills to the large and diverse communities in the country for their overall development.

The Programme Chair of PCF6 on the recommendations of Honourable Vice Chancellor of IGNOU had constituted a sub-committee for identifying 100 ODL Achievers. The terms of reference for the sub-committee lies in the mandate of identifying ODL Achievers all across the open and distance learning  institutes and universities in India and abroad.  Accordingly, the sub-committee has requested the State Open Universities (SOUs), Directorate of Distance Education (DDE), Partner Institutes (PIs) across the globe to identify and forward their names to the sub-committee based on the identified categories.

The Programme Chair of PCF6, on the recommendations of Honourable Vice Chancellor of IGNOU, had constituted a sub-committee for identifying 100 ODL Achievers. The terms of reference for the sub-committee lies in the mandate of identifying ODL Achievers all across the open and distance learning  institutes and universities in India and abroad

ODL Achievers have been identified from among the following categories:

  • People who have had little or no formal qualification and took advantage of ODL to enhance their qualification and achieved success in terms of better job opportunities/social status/higher self esteem/sense of fulfilment;
  • Geographically disadvantaged people who did not have access to higher education but took advantage of ODL and achieved in life in terms of better job opportunities/social status/higher self-esteem/sense of fulfilment;
  • Women who achieved success through ODL;
  • Differently-able persons who achieved success through ODL;
  • People have already been successful in life and chose ODL to enhance their qualification/knowledge;
  • Old/aged people who fulfilled their desire of intellectual enrichment/acquiring higher qualification through ODL.

The sub-committee has got more than 250 names of ODL Achievers from different parts of the country and globe. The Committee has finally identified 100 names as ODL Achievers.  The identified ODL Achievers were from diverse social backgrounds and of varied academic interests.  It is interesting to mention few of the names of the ODL Achievers, starting from T.N. Ramanathan, who is an IAS and presently working as Secretary, Backward Classes, Government of Tamil Nadu, Chennai.  He had his formal education qualification only up to PUC.  He has risen to his current position after doing his Bachelors of Commerce and Masters of Commerce through distance mode.  He had earlier been Commissioner of Chennai Corporation, Chairman of Tamil Nadu Housing Board and several other important positions in the state. Charles J Kithu has obtained his Management Degree from IGNOU and this qualification has further helped him to rise to a position of Director, Finance, Spice Board, Cochin. Hari Singh and Vikas Ahuja, who are associated with Delhi Network of Positive People and has been living with HIV for more than one decade, has done Diploma in AIDS and Family Education (DAFE) from IGNOU.  DAFE has given them better understanding about basics of HIV/AIDS.  The skills they got from this programme are becoming extremely helpful to them in touching the lives of thousands of HIV positive people. Gandkota Laya has obtained Masters in Computers Applications (MCA) from Open and Distance Learning and she is a leading popular Telegu Heroine.  Ravula Chandra Sekhar Reddy has done Masters of Arts in Rural Development (MARD) and is a former Member of Parliament (MP) from Andhra Pradesh. Rohini Sharma hailing from a very remote village of Punjab has successfully completed Masters of Computer Applications (MCA) from IGNOU and presently, she is pursuing her Masters of Technoloy (M.Tech.) from one of the reputed Govt. Engineer College in Punjab. Rupa Rai Chowdhuri is completely on chair with severe disability and despite her odds, she has successfully completed B.Sc. through Open and Distance mode and presently, pursuing Masters of Science in Mathematics with Applications in Computer Sciences M.Sc.  (MACS). These kinds of ODL Achievers are examples for many such differently-abled persons having no options but to be within the four walls of their homes. Kumar Ravikant Singh and Keshvendra Kumar had obtained Graduation through Open and Distance mode and both of them are in very coveted administrative positions and both of them are young officers with the Indian Administrative Services. Rajeev Ekka has also done Bachelors Degree Programme (BDP) from IGNOU and presently, he is an IAS and is Deputy Commissioner in one of the Districts in Jharkhand. Gunnesh Shivaji has achieved steep rise in his position soon after successfully completing Master of Business Administration (MBA) from IGNOU and now, he is Head of Audit in AIR, Mauritius. The list is incomplete without the mention of the name of Heera Lal Saini, who has joined IGNOU without any formal education as a daily wage attendant, and, with his hard work, he has obtained Bachelors Preparatory Programme (BPP), Bachelors of Arts (BA), Post Graduate Diploma in Rural Development (PGDRD) and Certificate in Computers (CIC) from Open and Distance Learning mode and now, he is working as a permanent staff member of the University and assisting admission process at one of the Regional Centres of IGNOU.  The Open and Distance Learning (ODL) has not only touched his life but also given him a sense of fulfilment.

There are many more examples about the contributions to the Human Resource Index (HRI) in the society. The ODL Achievers are really putting their interventions in different economic activities within the country and abroad and are becoming live examples for the others to emulate.  The students of the ODL system are being preferred for gainful employment contributing to an economically vibrant and knowledge based society for the country.

Dr. K D Prasad

Dr K D Prasad is presently working as Regional Director, IGNOU City Centre at New Delhi.Joined IGNOU in 1994 he has worked at different regional centres. Dr Prasad is the Convener for the Sub-Committee for identifying ODL Achievers for PCF6

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