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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Distance Education- Distancing Students from Education…



When I decided to pursue my studies few years ago, there were lots of obstacles strewn on my path. First, I did not have any certificates of past, as my hubby dear in his fit of madness had once torn into pieces all my TC’s and marks cards. Gone with it were my birth certificate and rest of the important documents which were needed for enrollment in distance education. It was then that I remembered that I had not collected my TC and marks card from PUC earlier, because I was married off in middle of exams back then. So I went ahead and collected those certificates and applied for my B.A. exams.
I heard a lot about distance education which was a boon to students like me who wanted to pursue higher education but could not attend regular college. Unfortunately, my experience for the last three years has been quite contradictory. I have learned a hard way, that by Distance Education they mean creating distance between education and student.
As a hard working student, the evaluation of my papers has shocked me, especially the English papers. It is shocking that people, who are into distance education, do not take it seriously at all. In my first year, I was somewhat surprised with my English language marks which were just 60% because I had done my paper way better than that. As it was not a core subject, I ignored the issue. In second year, my marks in psychology (69), English optional (60) and English language (56) was again way below what I deserved. So I went for re-evaluation.  To my utter shock my marks were further reduced by 35%. When I called up to ask, the person from the evaluation department who is registrar of evaluation told me that this is what I get for not being satisfied with first class marks. He was quite rude to me and said it is the professors who do the corrections and we should be satisfied with the marks they give us. He was short tempered, childish and lacked even basic social skills. I got in touch with the VC who was surprisingly a bit helpful person who listened to my woes and tried to help. He finally could not do anything as the rules say that there is nothing a student can do to challenge the re-evaluation. I let the issue go and continued with my third year.
Once again for the third year in my English papers the marks were way below my expectations. I applied for a photocopy this time around, so that I could check it out with lecturers before going to re-evaluation. Actually, the university had succeeded in scaring me away from re-evaluation as I was afraid they may go ahead and fail me. I wanted to be sure I deserved better marks before going ahead. The photocopies were sent only after the date of the re-evaluation was past. When I consulted the English lecturers in college in Bangalore, they were all of opinion that my papers deserved a minimum of 75% marks where as I got just 44 and 56 percent in them. Nothing could be done as the day for applying for re-evaluation was past. Law and courts were tough things to handle with a special needs child at home. I surrendered to the results and said, let me work hard for M.Sc. now.
If anyone thinks, this is the end of the ordeal, hold your breath for the show stopper. When my marks card arrived, I could not believe my eyes when I saw the results as failed. They had given me 0% marks in two English papers.  I checked the name, the registration number etc just to be sure. Yes the evaluation dept. had done it again. I called up the evaluation department and talked to one of the responsible officers there, who was not willing to listen and said casually“send the entire marks card back to the university and let me see what can be done”. No explanation of what, where, when or how. I called up again, a different evaluator this time who would again not listen initially. I kept persisting with my calls, and finally got his attention. The conversation I had with him was unbelievable. He accused me of not studying, not writing exams etc until I could butt in, when he stopped to take breath, and told him I have the photocopies of my answers sheets that states I have passed the exams. This made him listen to me and he asked “what are your marks in the answer sheets and on the website”. When I explained it, he said it was my misfortune (not their mistake) that this has happened and asked me send the original marks card back to KSOU. I asked him which department it should be addressed to. That made him burst out in anger, that if I do not know this simple thing then how I passed the exam at all.
With the terrible mistake they had committed, there was not a drop of remorse in the evaluation registrars; instead they were trying to make me feel that it was my entire mistake. I had doubts about sending my marks card and waiting for them to correct it so I tried calling up the VC as I had a genuine reason to consult him regarding my situation. When I called his number, a woman representing his office picked up the call and told me that I cannot speak to the VC about marks card issues as this should be discussed only with the evaluation registrar. Though I tried very hard, I failed to convince them that it was necessary for me to talk to the VC.
As a last resort, I called up the VC through his personal number, wondering how he would respond. Fortunately, he was not like his subordinates, not only was he willing to listen carefully but assured me that he would resolve the issue as soon as possible if I could visit his office with required documents. I explained that it would be difficult for me visit him immediately as it  is tough to find a caretaker for my daughter, so he asked me send it along with someone or post it to his office. 
With great help from a Good Samaritan person in Mysore, who visited the university on my behalf quite often, the issue is resolved and finally I received my passing certificate.
What shocked me through my three years experience with KSOU is the attitude of the people who represent distance education. They do not have any respect for the system they are representing. I have heard from a reputed lecturer of KSOU that they hesitate to give marks above 70% in theory papers to students as it is not possible to score more than that in distance education. Though I have passed Psychology with a total aggregate of 73%, I know my papers deserved way more than that. 
With the attitude I have seen towards Distance Education in past three years not only from the educators, but also family and friends, I feel it will only create more distance between a student and education. The people, who seem to lend support for me even when I am down with headache, did not understand what trauma I was going through due to my results. Many rubbished it off, saying after all it is just distance education and such things do happen. Most of the people who were experienced in the field of education said that nothing can be done, and I should just write the supplementary exams. When I tried talking to my study center department, they were afraid to accuse the University of being unfair to a student even when I had proof with me. Thank God, I had the courage and patience to deal with this situation. Whew!
Now I wonder why have the system of distance education at all and make students go through the exercise of writing exam and getting a degree if it does not hold any value.

I hope and pray that people will change their attitude towards distance education and make it is really a boon for those people who due to some unfortunate circumstances cannot attend regular college. Thanks to the VC of KSOU Mr.Rangappa I can now move ahead with my dreams of higher education. 

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