Open, and Distance Learning refers to a learning situation in which the learners can choose the time, place, instructional methods, and other factors related to their learning process. Open and Distance Learning (ODL) is relatively new in education, having gained prominence in the last two decades. This upsurge in the ODL in recent years owes much to the needs of the students to study in their place and time, to the desires of the teachers to break the traditional practices, and to the wish of employers to train their staff with the least possible absence from work.
The term ‘open’ first came into use due to the practices of the Open University of the United Kingdom. It was the first university termed ‘open.’ Since then, open learning has evolved into distance learning and later into open and distance learning.
Face-to-face tutoring has long monopolized the education culture in Nepal. The education culture of the country has a long history starting from the ancient Gurukul teachings to the present formal education system. Uses of technology in education have emerged recently, where online learning has been promoted as a form of distance education.
The Faculty of Education was established as the College of Education in 1956, before the official establishment of Tribhuvan University. It can be said that ODL started in Nepal when The College of Education launched “The Radio Education Program” for teacher training in 1957 and promoted adult education through Radio Nepal, FM radios, and TV. One more ODL program was launched in 1976 in the Institute of Education affiliated to TU, employing a radio broadcast approach and was used mainly to support teacher training activities. This was discontinued in 1980 and replaced with the Radio Education Teacher Training (RETT) Project that offered an introductory teacher training primary education certificate/diploma course in the Nepali language.
The National Education Commission established the Nepalese Distance Education Center in 1994 under the Ministry of Education. The center first utilized the radio to conduct teacher training and education awareness campaigns, but this was eventually confined to comparable operations. The advent of ODL in Nepal was ushered in by technological advancements at the turn of the century, as well as the formulation of an Open and Distance Learning Policy. The policy regulates open and distance learning in Nepal.
There are various centers of open schools throughout Nepal, and they focus on secondary-level students who do not come under formal education. Besides, as mentioned in the ODL Policy 2063, distance education aims to target the people of geographically remote places, job holders who cannot dedicate much time to attend the classes physically, people willing to learn while they earn, and many more.
Open and Distance Learning Policy was developed with the vision of creating supplementary/alternative ODL System to benefit with all the possible opportunities for the citizens belonging to diverse need contexts to give access to education and opportunities to acquire formal education and overall personality development especially to the deprived community, women and working people through distance mode.
Among the SAARC countries, Pakistan was the first to establish Open University in 1974. Nepal, on the other hand, had its first open university Nepal Open University only in 2016.
The Executive Council of Tribhuvan University created the Open and Distance Education Center (ODEC, TU) in 2015. It is a constituent independent academic entity of Tribhuvan University. It allows students to obtain higher education in all of Tribhuvan University's courses using a traditional method of instruction. It also serves as an outreach program for potential students' learning requirements. It gives quality higher education to a wide range of individuals in Nepal and abroad through open and distance learning modes. The primary goal of ODEC is to provide access and quality in higher education to a wide range of people through open and distance learning modes.
ODEC follows the admission policies developed by the respective Faculties and Institutes. The eligibility criteria outlined in the admission policies are also applied in the admission of the ODEC program. Please refer to the admission policy of the respective departments of the Institutes and Faculties for the eligibility requirements.
ODEC adopts a multi-pronged approach in evaluating the students' learning. There is a continuous evaluation of the students’ performance through the Moodle platform of internal assessment, and a range of techniques are used for this purpose. In addition to this, students will also attend the sit-in exam and the face-to-face exam students for the end-semester examination.
Current programs that ODEC offers include:
1) MEd in English Education
2) MEd in Mathematics Education
NOU is Nepal's flagship open university, with legal standing equivalent to that of other Nepalese universities. The university's goal is to increase access to higher education for those who have never had access to traditional higher/tertiary education. The university is working to provide inclusive and relevant programs to the national requirements of building a knowledge society and educating the young for a job in Nepal and global markets.
Nepal Open University has been commenced with the following objectives:
NOU currently offers 23 courses ranging from BBA to MPhil. You can learn more about it here.
Some international Universities like Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), Amity University Online, and Sikkim Manipal University-Distance Education offer degrees in Nepal. In contrast, significant colleges are also starting to give partial degrees owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The widespread acceptance of ODL in both rich and developing nations indicates the mode's great potential. This does not, however, imply that ODL will supplant the conventional approach. There is still a long way to go before the current dominance of campus-based higher education fades away. Because of learners' availability, the accessibility of libraries, and the promise of potential collaborators, ODL appears to have a lot of potential in nations like Nepal. However, we face obstacles such as a hostile political climate, a lack of electrification, and mistrust from academics about the strength of the degree, making the danger of confronting it nearly impossible.