Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A tuition free university - Standardised Education for All

Dear Friends,

I had always dreamt that education should not be open to buying. Its is something that one should learn and earn by hardwork and practice. Since the time Education began to be bought, it became the necessity to earn money too! Young girls and boys today think of education as means to earn money.

I remember some great hindi poet saying, शिक्षे तुम्हारा नाश हो, तुम नौकरी के हित बनी!

To me education should be open to all irrespective of whether the student is rich or poor. Devi Saraswati should be accessible to all irrespective of his/her economic status. In India, Indira Gandhi National Open University has set new standards in bringing education to the door steps. However, there is a good course fee attached to it.

Can't the Government subsidize this and let the students pay once they pick up a job after the course. It might be utopia as of now. However, UN has something like this in mind and an online tuition free Open University, to me is a great step in that direction. It would not only help in standardizing the education but also make its reach easier and cheaper to those who have time and money constraints. This would also reduced the monopoly of some money focussed institutions on higher education too.

Hope this would also amaze you. But there are some hidden charges still which perhaps need to be sorted out gradually. However, I welcome this as a very positive step.

Subhash Chandra Vashishth

Here is the news: To read from source click here

UN launches online, tuition-free university

The world's first online university will use open-source technology and course material, to bring a high level of learning to its students. Published on 5/20/2009 2:07:54 PMBy Shubhendu Parth

New Delhi: The UN Global Alliance for Information and Communication Technology and Development (GAID) has announced the launch of world's first tuition-free online university.

The university would use open-source technology and course material, alongside peer-to-peer teaching to bring a high level of learning to its students, sources at the United Nation (UN) said.

The initiative, rightly called the University of the People (UoPeople), is part of the agency's focus on education for year 2009 and is aimed at offering higher education to the masses.

"This year the Global Alliance has focused its attention on education [and] how ICT can advance education goals around the world," a GAID spokesperson said. "For hundreds of millions of people around the world higher education is no more than a dream," UoPeople Founder Shai Reshef said pointing out that people are constrained by finances, the lack of institutions in their region, or are not able to leave home to study at a university for personal reasons.

He further stressed that the University will enable people to continue their studies from home and at minimal cost by using open-source technology, open course materials, e-learning methods and peer-to-peer teaching.

"The high-quality, low-cost and global pedagogical model embraces the worldwide presence of the Internet and dropping technology costs to bring collegiate level studies to even the poorest and most remote places on earth," the University claimed on its website.

Reshef further said that in order to open access to as many people as possible, no material requiring broadband connections, such as video, would be used, which would enable people restricted to dial-up connections to follow courses.

And while, he hopes that there would be associated projects to supply computers to those without them, Reshef hoped that people without computers and Internet can still be able access, either through a centralised public computer, an Internet cafe or private machines.

According to sources, while a minimum of 12 years of study is mandatory pre requisite for those seeking admission at UoPeople, students would also need to pass an orientation course in English and computer skills in order to continue on to the major, which would require 40 courses, similar to most undergraduate degrees.

Students will be placed in classes of 20, after which they can log on to a weekly lecture, discuss its themes with their peers in a kind of chat room helping each other understand the material and take a test online.
If students still had problems after discussing the material with their peers, they could go to a course forum where they could consult with academics.Reshef also informed that to fund the University, there would be a sliding scale of fees for admissions and exams—depending on the World Bank's wealth-ranking of each student's home country—from US $15 to US $50 for admission.

Besides, students would also need to pay a processing fee for every test ranging from US $10 to US $100. For the University to sustain its operation, it needs 15,000 students and US $6 million, of which Reshef has donated US $1 million of his own money.

The University also plans to mine much of its course material from courses already made available on the Internet, free of charge, by major institutions like Stanford University in the United States. "However, the term open-use has to be defined carefully to avoid problems," he clarified.

Talking about the initiative Bangladesh's Ambassador to the United States Humayun Kabir and a member of the UoPeople advisory committee said, "The University is an innovation that will be remembered for a long time because of the degree to which it would increase access to higher education around the world."

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