Recently the All India Council For Technical Education has granted blanket approval for all engineering programmes taught through the Distance Learning mode. This is a gratituous proffer considering the fact that this body had withdrawn the recognition to all distance learning programmes in Engineering even by universities such as the IGNOU, which had established its quality services the world over, in the country and internationally. Now, in a swift gesture of honour it has reneged its earlier decision by stating that distance education programmes will help establish the concept of dual mode institutions, and will give opportunities to learners who cannot study, for whatever reasons, through the conventional modes of education.
This is wisdom at its ironic best, and the ways of such statutory bodies are whimsical to say the least. Everyone knows that Open Universities in the country were established to provide alternate and convenient methods of education, to the socio economic disadvantaged groups, the working people, the persons who have missed out on educational opportunities, house wives etc. Did not the AICTE know this when it summarily decided to banish its hallowed 'recognition'? And, now has it woken up to what the apex body of ALL Apex Bodies in education, the UGC has been saying for the last five decades or so?
The arbitrary manner in which statutory bodies in education work are based on ignorance, lack of ground realities, and internicine rivalry. The All India Council Of Teachers Education, displayed the same pomposity when it sought to impose limitations on IGNOU's BEd and Diploma In Primary Education Programmes some years back, in the same manner of intransigence and insularity. The latter programme of IGNOU has radicalized teacher training in the country, by bringing it to primary levels of heuristics and pedagogy. It is strange that policy makers do not understand this, nor recognize the wisdom of another set of decision makers, whether it is the Ministry, the UGC or the Distance Education Council.
Anyway, it is better late than never to go by an old adage. But think of all the damage the AICTE has done to prospective learners in technical and professional courses. Can it go about making totally arbitrary and whimsical decisions, whenever it feels like it, and then in a sudden spurt of wisdom, go back on its decision, by repeating what has already been decided earlier by the new wine in old bottles tautology?
It is amazing how idio idio syncratic decision makers in sensitive areas such as education behave. And now simply because the Government is emphasizing rightly on vocational education, blurring the distinction between 'vocational' courses and the much vaunted 'professional' courses this luminary body after having derailed the processes for narrowing skill gaps, is shouting in euphoric hysteria, how Distance Education, will address alternative and viable modes of study, and how conventional educational Institutions, should become dual mode institutions, giving opportunities of study for working people, which is truism now.
I'll be damned!