(Chairperson : Prof. C. J. Daswani, Initiator : Prof. N.
K . Ambasht Address : Shri. M. K. Kaw)
Introducing Shri. M. K. Kaw, Secretary, Education, Union of
India to the delegates, Prof. N. K. Ambasht said that Shri M. K.
Kaw has always been a guiding force in the programmes of the
National Open School. A literate figure, Shri. M. K. Kaw, has to
his credit the much acclaimed 'Science of spirituality'. Thus, a
also philosopher and a poet, Shri. M. K. Kaw radiates the rare
blend of academic excellence and administrative skill.
Prof. N. K. Ambasht, Chairman, National Open School, used the
opportunity to throw light on the concept of Open Basic Education
as visulaised by him and his colleagues. He said that Open Basic
Education is nothing but basic education disseminated to the
distant learners through the distant mode. And the term 'Basic
Education' suggests different connotations. It may be fundamentals
of one's education or basics for one's advanced learning. It may
also suggest basic 'traits' of one's personality or basic features
that mould these traits. He added that if a teacher is absent in
the formative years of a child, the natural process of imitation
would be lost. The challenge of distance education is to overcome
this hurdle in the process of instruction.
Regarding the unlimited capacity of technology/media in reaching
the unreached, Prof. Ambasht cautioned the group that a major part
of our population is deprived of these facilities. Prof. N. K.
Ambasht concluded his talk seeking a solution from the
practitioners, to overcome the stumbling blocks in the goal of
reaching the unreached.
Chairing the session, Prof. C. J. Daswani looked forward to the
presentation from Sh. M. K. Kaw, since it would speak clearly on
the government's educational policy. Inviting Sh. M. K. Kaw to
present the paper, he conveyed that delegates may seek
clarifications in the open discussion.
Sharing his thoughts with the group, Shri. M. K. Kaw said that
the Distance Education is an emerging area and can contribute
towards making the formal flexible. He stated that the Constitution
of India assigns top most priority to education of children upto
the age of 14 years. When we talk, about basic education we refer
to the schooling needs of children upto 14 years and the literacy
needs of the adult population. I am of the firm belief that the
school system has a role in bringing children from all walks of
life together. It serves a very useful social purpose by promoting
intermingling among communities on a very large scale. This,
however, does not mean that distance education has no relevance in
basic education; far from it.
In an age of constant explosion of knowledge, keeping up to date
is the need of the times. If a teacher or a student were to cut
himself or herself from the channels of communication and computers
available today, it would severely restrict their access to
knowledge and skills. For the adult population, distance education
becomes a means of developing and cultivating interests. Nobody
learns to read and write only for the sake of reading. They do so
because they would like to use their literacy and numeracy to
improve their knowledge and skills. Distance education is also an
effective instrument for upgradation of skills and cultivation of
interests and hobbies for adults.
It is on account of this change in technology and the constant
knowledge explosion that modern education systems have to be
multi-pronged. Classroom is only one of the venues of learning. The
radio, the television, the computer and study materials from
distance education sources are all changing the concept of
education. The National Open School will have to situate its
interventions in this particular context of a need for
multi-pronged approach to education. Flexibility and Diversity are
the strength of the Open School System and these need to influence
the formal stream. I personally feel that the distance mode is an
effective mode for non-formalising formal school education. In this
context, the National Open School can provide leadership for such
Studies on educational psychology have debated the extent to
which the home environment and the school environment contribute
towards the development of a child. It is also a well known fact
that every child has his or her own ability to understand what is
discussed in a classroom sitution. Every child requires a culture
of ''Swadhyay'' (Self Learning) in order to gain fully from the
system. It is in the field of ''Swadhyay'' that the National Open
School and distance education can facilitate the process of
learning. Such efforts would require preparation of materials in
various forms - printing, audio, video to meet the diverse learning
needs of children.
The need for flexible schools and examination systems has been
felt in recent years. On account of pressures of various kinds,
children have often had to discontinue education at the upper
primary level. The same is the case with regard to girls in rural
areas especially if the upper primary school is located very far
away from the village where she resides. In all such situations,
the distance mode can provide opportunities of learning and
The National Open School cannot work in isolation. In any case
India is too large a country to be covered by a national
institution alone. It is imperative that we promote the setting up
of State Open Schools by the State Governments, so that we
galvanize the rural hinterland. The NOS and the SOSs should have
some demarcation of their respective roles, so that they act in
tandem and not at cross-proposes.
In terms of area, the NOS must concentrate its efforts on the
148 black hole districts where female literacy rates for SCs and
STs are very low. It should also pay special attention to the 331
educational blocks where there is a concentration of Muslims.
In urban areas, there will have to be a focus on the children
belonging to underprivileged sections of society, especially those
living in slums. Special strategies for taking distance learning to
them will have to be devised. I am confident that the deliberations
of this workshop will contribute towards excellence in distance
education or the promotion of basic education. It is always better
to be focussed on where we wish to go and I think the focus on
reaching the unreached is a laudable one. I wish the National Open
School the very best in such an endeavour.
Reacting to the talk, Ms. Indira Varadarajan, said that her
organisation works in eight parts of the country. In the field
visits, what she could see was the lack of a motivating philosophy
which could prepare the young neotiterates to overcome the fear of
failure. Adolescent girls and women badly needed such a preparatory
material before taking up a certificate course through the distance
Citing the examples of housewives in Pratham, West Bengal, who
could conduct pre- primary classes for children, Sh. M. K. Kaw
clarified that absence of instructional material could be
substituted with community participation. Visits made in some of
these centres revealed that the children attending these classes
had acquired the required skills. And the primary class teacher of
these children even testified that they did perform well in the
regular class room. Another model that could be followed is that of
Fr. Alphonso, an exponent of Community College movement in southern
India. Before offering vocational courses, a course on life-coping
skills is offered to his students.
Prof. M. Mukhopadyaya, former Chairman, National Open School and
Senior Fellow, NIEPA suggested that National Open School should
develop capitulation of the organisation could do is 'organising'
at the grassroots level. Teachers/Instructors who will always show
in the tendency to instruct the conventional mode should be
Explaining the role of Non-governmental organisations, Prof.
N.K. Ambasht, Chairman, National Open School, said that the NOS
tries to reach the unreached through NGOs. The National Open School
will act as the coordinating agency providing examplary
Mrs. Rai, said that young neo-literates who are above the age of
eighteen years cannot be motivated to attend a primary class. At
the same time, the neo-literates below twelve years and working
children cannot be taught without the assistance of a teacher at
primary level. And we also need teachers to instruct at least in
the initial stage and that makes training of teachers a major
concern when we think about Basic Education.
Shri M.K. Kaw explained that decisions are taken in the policy
making level to provide greater flexibility in the sphere of
non-formal education. Decision making authority may soon be given
to the State and setting up of State Education Societies is in the
horizon. The setting up of Village Education Plan and District
Education are also being thought of .
Responding to Mr. Mahlawat, on the role of NGOs in the proposed
programmes Mr. Kaw said that greater participation of NGOs will be
required in these programmes.
Dr. Ms. Renuka Narang, Director, Department of Adult Education,
University of Mumbai sought guidance to certify the adult learners
attached to her department.
Mr. Kaw informed that a university in the Sate of Tamil Nadu,
had already started working in this direction.
Prof. O. S. Dewal, Senior Consultant, NCERT and founder
Director, National Open School suggested focussed approach in
reaching the unreached; using the distance education mode in Basic
Shri. Chanden Sen, Loksevcayatan, Northens Bihar stated that
certain communities who are always on the move (especially tribes)
find no place in the target group of the literacy campaigns Mr. Kaw
said that attaching a teacher along with these highly mobile
communities has been successful, to some extent in Himachal
Ms. Nishat Farooq, said that many-a-time the target group never
realised the need for being literate.
The lack of motivation amongst the instructors is also another
To tackle the issue of lack of interest in the learners, Mr. Kaw
suggested the use of libraries. To make them feel the need to be
literate, small story books should be distributed amongst the
The knowledge that the stories convey, may create the demand in
them to be literate. The session came to an end with the vote of
thanks to the chair.