With the fast changes taking place in the contemporary world, the challenges for higher educational institutions in the country are getting compounded. The institutions have to come up to the changing expectations of their stakeholders-students, teachers, employers, & society. In such a scenario, knowledge creation and its transfer requires a new vision, a new direction and a new mind set coupled with a new administrative structure. India, being a country with the highest young population needs to take advantage of this situation and develop adequate human resources not only for itself but also for the other economies of the world. As a sequel to this, a target of 30% Gross Enrolment Ratio was fixed to be achieved by the end of the 12th five year plan and the thrust areas to be covered were identified as expansion, inclusiveness, quality, relevance and value based education. But the time has come when India has to go beyond this as the world is expecting it to assume a bigger role as a fast growing economy. This merits a fresh look into the whole higher educational system of the country which demands a complete overhaul in tune with the changed expectations of its stakeholders. In such an emerging milieu, the formal system of higher education seems deficient to fulfill this dream and it is here the Distance and Open learning institutions have to come forward and assume a bigger role to contribute to this cause.
It is forecasted that by 2030, every education or training program leading to a particular academic qualification will be available in three different modes namely part time, full time, and through distance learning. Among the three modes, Distance Education will be more sought after as this form of education has increased access to learning opportunities to individuals who cannot attend conventional classes on a daily basis as well as to those with financial limitations. Besides this, distance learning serves as an option for people who wish to expand their knowledge base to boost their careers. By and large, it allows learners to learn wherever and whenever they are, as well as helping students balance their education with career, family, and everything else they do in life.
In the state of Jammu & Kashmir, distance education institutions have an added responsibility. Because of the inaccessibility of various locations owing to hilly terrain and typical geographical divisions of the state, formal educational institutions cannot be built in every location. Realising this, the Directorate of Distance Education was established by the University of Kashmir way back in 1976 as, “Institute of Corresponding Courses,” which over the years has grown in its size to the extent that at present, it is spread in all the three regions of the state. The Directorate has a wide network of 14 study centers (located at Anantnag, Baramulla, M.A Road, Srinagar, Charar-i-Sharief, Kupwara, Shopian, Pulwama, Bandipora, Leh, Kargil, Budgam, Ganderbal, Tral, and Handwara) and 60 information centers located in various affiliated Colleges of the university.
The Directorate has developed a huge infrastructure located in the main campus (Naseembagh Srinagar), North Campus (Baramulla) and South Campus (Anantnag) besides a Regional Center at Jammu. Further, to supplement the infrastructure requirements, the facilities at 14 study centers and 60 information centers are made use of to ensure effective teaching learning for the distance learners. The Directorate has a trained manpower (highly qualified faculty and fully trained administrative and supportive staff), a well equipped library, state of the art computer and audio-visual labs, and fully equipped class rooms. The pedagogy for learners include personal interface sessions with learned faculty, supply of printed study materials, seminars, case studies, E- content and E-tutorials available on the website of the Directorate, etc. The Directorate is fully making use of modern information and communication technologies and is set to move to MOOCs platform in near future to make its programmes available to those who are not able to take benefit of the presently available methods of teaching-learning. Latest interactive features to the website are likely to be added to meet the specific requirements of the potential learners.
In the next few years, the Directorate of Distance Education aspires to become a world class institution craving for excellence in competencies, skills, abilities and motivation for its students and a sense of satisfaction for its stakeholders.
I wholeheartedly invite and welcome the new aspirants who are interested to seek admission in any programme of the Directorate. I assure them that by registering with us, there is going to be a reasonable value addition in their lives and they will enjoy their learning experience with us.
Prof. Mohi-ud-Din Sangmi