The governing body of University of Delhi’s School of Open Learning (SOL) has decided that it cannot afford to spend Rs 10 lakh to facilitate digital learning for around 1,800 poor students.
Last year, the annual interest and fee income of the institution was around Rs. 45 crores. Even after making capital amounts of Rs. 473 crores, SOL is reluctant to spend a meagre amount in the name of the underprivileged students. As sources revealed, the SOL spends around Rs. 15 crores on printing study materials every year. But on September 29, the governing board at its meeting refused to sanction Rs 10 lakh that would have facilitated distribution of tablets (each estimated to cost around Rs. 5000 each) among the needy students of the school.
SOL came up with a project to provide tablets to 1,849 students from the below-poverty-line section to enable them access to the school’s digital platform and e-resources. SOL’s governing body shot down the idea because it decided that “corporate social responsibility is not required of an educational institution”. CS Dubey, chairman of Campus of Open Learning, has written to the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) to intervene and allow the use of funds for the initiative. Dubey highlighted the Government of India’s initiative Swayam, pushing for a digital platform in education. Here students could access learning materials on tablets through initiatives like SOL’s own 101 video lectures and SGTB Khalsa College’s 100 MOOC lectures. Indeed, without digital intervention, economically disadvantaged students would miss out on various e-resources available to SOL.
Revealing about Dubey’s letter to MHRD, an official said, “The letter states that despite the huge unused funds, the plan to help poor students with tablets customised for SOL’s indigenous learning management system that is already in operation- was not sympathetically considered at the special governing board meeting.” Though Dubey refused to comment on his letter to the ministry, he said that while SOL is striving to develop the flipped-classroom technology by giving more importance to virtual/ audio-visual teaching-learning followed by activity/skill-based experiential learning, it is “important to offer information and communication technology tools to the students from a financially weaker background for inclusive education”.
Feature Image Credits: DU Beat Archives