Population on increase day-by-day and this is causing a serious problem in every field. Due to increasing population, illiteracy is also increasing and in spite of increase in the rate of literacy in the last decades the number of literates has not increased. The school dropout rate is 76.6% and only 2% of youth join colleges. Poverty, compulsion to work to support the family forces students to drop out of school.
But there were some students who want to continue their education along with their jobs. So for them education by mail was started by Delhi University in 1962. The experiment was hail by different sections of society. Many persons who were physically handicapped, housewives, working people who were keen to study further and wanted to apply for jobs found a way to satisfy their ambitions of life. The success of this experiment encouraged other universities to set up Directorate of Correspondence Courses and Continue Education and so distance education is being imparted in 34 institutes.
In the beginning the concept of distance education was not that of openness, it was merely an extension of the formal system with all its rigidities except compulsory attendance. So it attracted the dropouts of the formal system. But later certain factors led to change in objectives and expectations. These were population growth, distribution of population, inaccessibility of formal system to people in remote areas, the cost of education, for forbidding cost of expanding the formal system further, need to subside education for weaker sections of society and above all the need to create a learned society.
The failure and limitation of the formal system made educationists expect a complementary and supplementary role for distance education. They felt distance education could be an open and flexible system where a student could study at its own pace. They realized that it was not necessary that every student must rise in the educational ladder passing through the same steps as laid down in the convention system. Consequently the idea of open education came into existence. Some universities took up the idea. The first to do so was the Andhra Pradesh University 1982. In 1985 Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) came into existence. These universities offer an opportunity to students to join at any age study at their own pace and place.
Indian has ambitious plan of developing a network of open universities with IGNOU at top. They have manly two objections- One, the course material in all the open universities will be the same. Secondly, a student can transfer his credit from one Open University to another. The Open University system is basically trying to impart quality education by planning lessons carefully using multi-media approach i.e. preparing audio and visual lessons, opening study centers, selling the material to students, providing face-to-face contact programmers with teachers through seminars and meeting with tutors i.e. methods similar to ones being used in any other correspondence course. Open universities are therefore going to be more flexible studies, material and duration of courses and time limit is the same as in the formal system.
Since as a part of National Education Policy, the states intend to restrict enrollment in formal education, they have stopped encouraging growth in number of colleges and universities. Therefore distance education has a bright future. As it is more in demand, more-and-more states are going in for distance education. At some places, institutes are opening their own labs to the students who can use them.
So, seeing its utility, more-and-more expansion in the field would be required further. Only then will these open universities would become an effective system of learning,.