Kerala Kaumudi Online
Saturday, 28 January 2023 6.54 PM IST

EDITORIAL: Let Gurudeva University be the light of education


It was a century ago that Sree Narayana Guru proclaimed that nation’s and society’s progress would be possible only through education.
Now an open university is taking birth in the name of Kerala’s greatest Rennaisance leader. Selecting October 2, the Gandi jayanthi, as the date of inauguration of the university is also an appropriate decision.

Kollam city, which lays claim on a good chunk Kerala’s legacy, will be the headquarters of the university. It will set off a new educational revolution in Kollam, which is the abode of numerous educational institutions that have played a major role in lighting the lamp of education among the backward class.

Though the university may face some trouble at its ‘formative’ days, we hope that let this become a prime educational centre in which Malayalis can take pride in. Once the Gurudeva University starts functioning, distance education institutions that are currently functioning under four universities in the State and are more or less in an orphaned state, will wholly come under this university.
Open universities have gained relevance all over the world for providing opportunities to students for studying in unconventional manner and secure high degrees.
For many, studying in distance education classes has been a big punishment due to the disorganized and non-systemic ways they have been functioning. Many distance education institutions have also been in the verge of shut down for not following UGC norms. Some have even been in trouble as the degree certificates issued by them were not recognized by other universities.

For decades, there have been demand for a separate university for distance education alone. Finally, in 2009, a three-member panel headed by former IGNOU vice-chancellor Ram G Takwale submitted a report to the government in this regard but it was put into cold storage.

Later it was this government which appointed education expert Prof J Prabhash as the special officer. The decision on Gurudeva university was taken after going through all pros and cons of the report submitted in June.

Not only humanitarian subjects, Science subjects will also be taught in the Open University. Lab facilities in other colleges under the four universities in the State will be utilized for this.

The Open university students will be able to use the facilities in regular colleges on Saturday, Sunday and other holidays.

Current staff in university distant education institutions will be given an option to move out to the Open University. They will not lose jobs. Limiting subjects for studies to humanitarian branch has been the most unattractive part of the distant education. The Open University will change this situation.

A wide variety subjects will be available and students of any age would be able chose their subject for study.

Currently there are about 1.25 lakh students enrolled in distance education centres. With the opening of Gurudeva Open University this number may multiply ten times. However the university will have to make all arrangements for receiving this huge population of students or else they, will have to face blame

The structure of the Open University will be Academic-research council, directors’ council and school of studies. Decentralised administrative arrangement is proposed.

Online classes which have become ubiquitous in Covid times will come in handy in conducting classes by the university. The number of people aspiring for higher education is increasing year by year. The seats in colleges are unable to accommodate increasing number of eligible candidates. As the number of failed candidates are on the decline substantially, their only resort will be open universities.
Therefore coming up with a university exclusively for distance education will be a great solace for many student. We hope that the Gurudeva University will shine as an inextinguishable lamp that will not be shaken by any wind.

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