“Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) is for strengthening quality higher education through digital technologies,” said B Vinod Kumar, Vice-Chairman of Telangana State Planning Board. He was speaking as the Chief Guest at a symposium organised at Dr BR Ambedkar Open University (BRAOU) in Hyderabad on August 23, Tuesday.
The symposium was conducted by BRAOU in association with Excel India media group from Hyderabad. The topic of the symposium is “Bridging Educational Divide: Through ODFL and Technology Integration”. Vinod Kumar, former MP, commended the role of BRAOU in spreading higher education over the last 40 years among those who cannot afford regular colleging.
“I have no doubt that online education is here to stay. We switched over to online and digital forms of education during the Covid pandemic. Online methods of teaching and learning have their own benefits, though they have some problems. We need to find out ways to overcome those issues,” said Vinod. He spoke about the need to make available online education to one and all.
Vinod Kumar referring to a government policy to graduate around one lakh SC/ST youth through distance education programme. “I am happy that the Government has issued orders to this effect alrady. Really this is a noble idea and our CM KCR is committed to empower Dalits and vulnerable sections of society. This idea of one lakh graduates is a good one to pursue,” said Vinod Kumar.
“Covid has done a great job in propelling technology in the classrooms. Today, I notice, teachers who have always taught the chalk and board method, are now using google classrooms and other software to teach children content. Research shows visual imagery has a greater impact on the mins of students and helps their retention levels. We should integrate digital learning methods even after physical classes resume,” said Vinod.
Technical education and College education commissioner Naveen Mittal, IAS delivering his Key Note address said that there was a need to remove barriers for students to study their choicest courses. “The advent of digital and online forms of education has hastened the process of reforms at every level. We couldn’t have thought of digital education, if there were no Covid-19 three years ago,” he said.
MLC Vani Devi spoke about the need to make digital educational not only affordable but also reachable to wider sections of students. “There is a need to equip our senior teachers with new teaching skills in this era of digital education. We have seen, how in the olden days the teaching remained to particular ways. Now, it is no longer the case where youth want more to learn,” said Vani Devi.
BRAOU Vice-Chancellor Prof K Seetharama Rao presided over the symposium while Excel India Chief Editor Rama Krishna Sangem introduced the topic. Centre for Internal Quality Assurance (CIQA) director Prof P Madhusudhana Reddy welcomed the gathering while Mrs G Manjula from CIQA proposed vote of thanks.
In his Presidential speech, Pro Seetharama Rao explained the significant role played by BRAOU in the last four decades. “We have the privilege of educating lakhs of under privileged and hitherto unreached sections of society. Covid pandemic has created a specific context for us to meet the challenge of serving our students. We have risen to the occasion,” said Prof Seetharama Rao.
Prof R Limbadri, Chairman of Telangana State Council of Higher Education, a main speaker explained the various steps taken by the State government since recently to encourage students to pursue subjects of their choice. “We know that the open varsities have played a major role in teaching during the pandemic. We will continue to take steps to bridge the divide in education sector,” said Prof Limbadri.
Former Chairman of the Council Prof Papi Reddy said that the responsibility of bridging educational divide mainly lies with the governments. “Gone of the days of mere presentation of certificates or degrees cannot fetch our youth a decent employment opportunities. We shall empower our students with real knowledge and skills. Open university has a big role in this mission,” said Prof Papi Reddy.
T SAT CEO R Shailesh Reddy stressed on the need to ready both teachers and students for online teaching and learning. “It is not enough if both of them are connected with digital tools. They must be prepared to know the importance of this new methods of education. Bridging educational divide is a challenge before us all,” he said.
Prof Ghanta Chakrapani, director of Centre for Staff Training and Skill Development of BRAOU said that the basic reasons for educational divide should be tackled at societal level. Access to broadband and digital tools like a tab or a smartphone are essential before expecting our rural students to switch over to online educational methods.
Rama Krishna Sangem said that the time of this symposium is important at it comes against the backdrop of 75 years of Indian Independence and 40th anniversary of BRAOU. “This prestigious Open university was first of its kind when it was set up in 1982. Now too this should be the torchbearer of reforms to bridge educational divide,” said the Chief Editor of Excel India.