DAV (P.G.) College is a name of great honour and high repute in Dehradun for higher studies. This old and prestigious college compels an individual to quench its thirst of inquisitiveness about what lies behind the great walls of the centre that still stand tall in the field of education. The centre unveils its history and enlightens the visitors, with the fact that it has been the centre for excellence ever since it was established. The same old charm is still spreading its wings igniting the bright young minds. DAV College was the only college in Dehradun for years till the private colleges started to mushroom in and around the region. The college offers vast number of undergraduate and postgraduate courses to its students. The popularity of the centre can be easily measured by the fact that almost half of the Dehradun city students take their graduation degrees from this college only.
The college was established in the year 1948 and is affiliated to HNB Garhwal University, Srinagar. IGNOU study centre (2705) is housed in the college premises since 1987 and has the honour of being the biggest study centre in Uttarakhand. The co-ordinator Dr. Ajay Saksena is also an associate professor at the Department of Political Science in DAV (PG) College. He has the experience of teaching under-graduates and post-graduates for the past thirty four years. He is also performing duty of the Director, College Placement Cell. The centre holds regular counselling sessions for the learners on weekends. The learners are never discouraged in case they demand extra time than their allotted slots. In fact, the administration tries and explores weak areas of learners to further help them with available resources.
Dr. Saksena expresses that there are no two opinions about the quality of study materials offered to IGNOU learners. It is indeed one of the finest and best in India as far as the higher education is concerned. However, some course materials like M.A. Education are not available in Hindi language which makes students from Hindi speaking belt suffer a lot.
Meharban Singh, a fourth semester Management Programme learner, feels that the study material is not detailed and if they rely on the materials alone then it will be next to impossible for them to cover the entire course in time. The Regional Centre has made it mandatory for the study centres to not plan more than ten counselling sessions in one academic year for each course. But, Dr. Saksena, admits that not more than five counselling sessions are held in a year due to the paucity of time. Dr. K.R. Jain, a Management Programme counsellor, states a genuine problem of the teachers that IGNOU instructs them to complete each module in four counselling sessions. Then each module has five books which are prescribed by IGNOU and each book comprises of four units.
Dr. Jain expresses his disagreement with regard to the complete process by mentioning that it is beyond his understanding that how can four units be covered in one course counselling. Many teachers give extra time for counselling but they are not even paid by the centre, leave aside well paid. Counsellors at the study centre demand that the counselling sessions should be increased as learners can’t be left in the middle of nowhere. According to Dr. Saksena, the course is tailored in such a way that induction meeting and assignment schedules are often delayed. Therefore, these all add to the misery of the learners towards the end of the year.
The study centre, as reported by Dr. Saksena, does not have internet facility and the tele-conferencing facility which was available earlier has also been pulled back by the Regional Centre. Rakesh Singh, a Management Programme learner, studies from e-Gyankosh and other visual lessons on You Tube from IGNOU at his home but he faces difficulties due to unavailability of internet facility at the centre where the counsellors are often unable to demonstrate some modules while teaching. Dr. Saksena, sums it up by mentioning that in a distance education mode it is a mockery if the study centre functions without ICT facilities.
Dr. Saksena, while talking to India Education Review, expresses his concern regarding the innumerable courses being introduced by IGNOU without acknowledging the fact that whether they have required number of counsellors for these courses or not.
Dr Saksena has high regards for IGNOU’s methodology formulated for the counselling sessions which include one hour of teaching and one hour of discussion. The counsellors at times take feedback from the learners in order to check their receptivity during the counselling sessions. Dr. Saksena keeps a regular check by taking feedback from both ends, counsellors as well as from learners. The centre tries to tie up with counsellors who are the best in their fields. He proudly mentions the availability of best teachers at the centre but there are courses which are totally neglected due to the non-availability of the counsellors. The study centre has recorded an increase in the learner strength in past few years which at present has scaled up to fifteen thousand.
Dr. Saksena emphasised that if the problems of infrastructure and funds are addressed by the head quarters then the quality of education imparted at the study centres will enhance automatically. Therefore, the basic criteria for progression at IGNOU should be the strengthening of study centres by providing basic resources. IGNOU can become a people’s university only by polishing its study centres which are its building blocks.