IGNOU Shimla Study Centre at Education Department, HP University: Maintaining ethical standards in education

The Himachal Pradesh University was founded on July 22, 1970. The University firmly believes in what India's first Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru said, “A University stands for humanism, for tolerance, for region, for progress, for the adventure of ideas and for the search for truth. It stands for the onward march of the human race towards even higher”. With these inspiring verses, the University planned to support education of the educators. Along with the conventional education system in Education, the university planned to associate itself with IGNOU, the people’s university, for spreading education at the grass root level especially in state of Himachal Pradesh. Thus, IGNOU Study Centre within the premises of the Education Department, HP University was established in the year 2000 to facilitate the teacher education to the learners from the far flung areas.

Prof. Badwal joined IGNOU in the year 1981 and has been associated with the study centre since then. He is presently heading the study centre as the coordinator. He joined HP University as a student in 1976 and later became an educationist at the Department of Education in 1981. He has been the Dean of Education Department twice after becoming the Professor in 1998. 

As the Study Centre Coordinator he said, there have been several innovative practices which have been followed at the centre. The landmark amongst them, according to him, was the practice of arranging counselling sessions. He further explained by saying that, “In the initial stages when the study centre was established, we used to conduct regular counselling for our learners on Sundays”. But as a coordinator he later realised that not many learners were attending these scheduled counselling. The basic reason, he realised, for this unusual trend was due to the fact that learners used to come for just one counselling on Sundays from far flung areas. Soon, he said, “we started noticing a drastic fall in the attendance. It was then decided and planned that the prescribed ten Sundays’ counselling sessions can be clubbed together on the gazetted holidays which would avoid learners’ effort to come for just one session on every Sunday”. “This new practise helped learners who were mostly in-service teachers”, he added. Thus, 5 days counselling session conducted twice an academic session catapulted the attendance again to a whopping 75 to 85 percent, considering that the attendance for these counselling sessions are not compulsory. Therefore, he said, after noticing this success, other study centres too started adopting the similar practise across Himachal Pradesh.

Apart from the regular course schedule, Prof. Badwal said that he introduced interactive sessions, debates, declamation programmes, group discussions, panel discussion etc. to keep his learners abreast with the latest trends of teaching and its requirements. The participation, according to the coordinator, is compulsory for all the learners in these workshop activities which are conducted in each session by the study centre. He further informed that during learners’ academic programmes, they are also given the research topics by the counsellors to avoid plagiarism. The centre also provides every support to its learners in their research works along with the HP University library facility which is available to IGNOU learners on demand. But despite of such innovative practices, he said, the counsellors do face some problems as the counselling are only doubt clarification classes but the learners still insist for regular class room teaching and expect counsellors to teach them word by word.

As a coordinator he feels that the study material is absolutely sufficient for the learners but barriers which the learners often face is primarily in the language or the medium of the study material. The learners often share that the translation of the study material in Hindi is difficult to understand because of it being literally translated. Prof. Badwal also believes that there is a psychological barrier which is predominant amongst the students of this region. Students mostly study in English medium till their graduation but still carry a psychological fear or phobia while communicating in English. Despite of the fact that the study materials are also available in English, he said, they still prefer to choose Hindi as the medium of instruction. He said that in order to solve this problem the counsellors make every effort to provide learners with some content in Hindi language which is easier for them to understand.

Prof. Badwal also holds high regard for the Regional Centre which has been extremely helpful in administrative and academic assistance. The Regional Centre, he said, does not create any unwanted interference in the administrative workings but rather plays a role of anchoring the ship. He added by saying that with the constant guidance of the Regional Director the study centre has performed well over the past.  He feels the work of all the staff members at the Regional Centre is extremely efficient and highly commendable. He believes that the teaching and research standards in the nation needs to be improved not just in the ODL mode but in conventional medium as well. He expressed his disappointment regarding the fabrication and manipulation of the results and internal assessments which are offered by the colleges in various educational and vocational courses. He holds the view that a standardised practise of evaluation should be adhered for a transparent educational system in India.  

by Ezra John

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Dr (Mrs) G. Ponmeni
25 Apr 2013

It is very true, Distance learners expecting teaching word by word rather counselling.
It is also true learner requires colloquial language in reading material, facing difficult to understand Hindi. etc.