I enjoyed the opinion piece "IT can not replace eye-to-eye" (THES, December 6, 1996). If the scenario depicted exists in a developed country like the United Kingdom, one could well imagine the situation in developing countries like India.
In societies where impressing a foreign visitor matters more than providing succour to the hapless distant learner, especially the egalitarian and the rural one, distance education practitioners are torn between the demands of clientele and dictates of the policy-makers.
Mine has been a lone dissenting voice on various forums of distance education. In a country such as India, where there is considerable unemployment and under-employment among academically well-qualified youth, a judicious division has to be made between investment in men and in machines. Though it is acknowledged that the huge capital expenditure on high-tech gadgetry is not yielding results commensurate with efforts, policy-makers are forced to continue with the policies to justify their actions. With technology-shy learners and a lack of minimum physical and technical supportive infrastructure at study centres, the scenario presents a mismatch between what ought to be and what occurs.
K. Kuppu Swamy Rao
Director, audio visual production and research centre, Dr B.R. Ambedkar Open University, Hyderabad, India