The meeting, after a formal inauguration by Shri I K Gujral, Chairperson SAF India, began with a formal welcome by Ambassador Madanjeet Singh.
He appraised the members that though there was no formal agenda to be transacted, this meeting is an exercise.
Chairperson: Prof. H. P. Dikshit, Vice-Chancellor, IGNOU.
1. Establish links between Open Universities in terms of content and technology.
2. Connect the SAF Documentation and Information Centre with similar centres in the South Asian region and the participating universities.
He felt that a resolution towards the programme on South Asian Studies would enable SAF to define the direction for future growth and to meet its objectives of regional cooperation. While deliberating upon the status of IT and software development, he emphasized that technology must evolve from within the region. He also pointed out that SAF could support other initiatives for improvement of communities by matching the financial contributions of the proposing universities on a 50-50 basis.
Ambassador Singh nominated Prof. Suresh Garg, PVC, IGNOU as the Content Coordinator and Shri Zaheer Kidvai as the IT Coordinator for this programme. This decision was welcomed by all present.
Ambassador Singh then invited Professor H. P. Dikshit, Vice Chancellor IGNOU, to chair the meeting.
Prof. H. P. Dikshit appraised members of the IT capabilities and best practices for community interventions undertaken in India and the role being played by IGNOU for their replication in Asia and Africa through UNESCO. He emphasized that development for the software would be the most crucial factor in implementation of this initiative. He also suggested that the coordinators should be authorized to stress upon the participating universities to adhere to the time schedules drawn in Beaulieu-sur-Mer with regards to the SAS course development. In the event of default, the coordinators may like to assign the responsibilities to other persons / institutions in consultation with Ambassador Singh.
Professor Dikshit then asked Professor Garg to appraise the members about the deliberations of the SAF's meeting of Vice-Chancellors, held on 28th-29th September 2002, at Beaulieu-sur-Mer (France). The members were informed that a Post-graduate diploma in South Asian Studies will be developed according to a fixed time schedule and put on offer with effect from January 2004.
Subsequently, the following suggestions were made:
1. The initiative and effort of SAF for creating the forum for sharing knowledge and experience is laudable.
2. It would be desirable if knowledge resources about South Asia are developed in the form of multi-purpose modules with the flexibility of coupling them with existing programmes of different universities.
3. Participating institutions should be encouraged to translate the materials into regional languages, incorporating relevant contextual details.
4. The SAF should encourage local concerns in keeping with a regional philosophy of cooperation and collaboration.
5. It would help the universities if guidelines for submitting proposals to the SAF could be developed / provided.
6. The SAF, through its Documentation and Information Centre, will allow associating universities free access to electronic journals. In addition, participating universities will submit soft copies of their print journals as well as links to their electronic journals for hosting by the SAF Portal.
7. All universities may be associated in course design and development and allowed flexibility in local contexts.
8. The course on South Asian Studies should address cultural values and diversity so that a common past could be rediscovered and help people to people relationships.
9. It would be worthwhile to identify gaps in different knowledge areas and SAF should be the facilitator for providing connectivity between universities and help develop software dominated technology options.
10. The programme may address issues of Urbanization, Panchayati Raj, Population Studies, and Best Practices like Micro Credit of Bangladesh, Amul
Experiment of India, Rural Support Programme of Pakistan, and Community Radio of Sri Lanka.
11. The members were of the view that this course could create openings, particularly in the NGO sector and open new possibilities for entrepreneurship.
12. As likely projects, members suggested Teacher Training and Special Education for the Differently-abled, Pre-primary Education and Training, and Extension Education Programmes.
13. The SAF portal will carry information on at least one Best Practice course from each participating university.
After detailed deliberations, the following decisions were taken:
1. All present (as per the enclosed list) agreed, in principle, to offer Post Graduate Diploma in South Asian Studies as per schedule drawn at Beaulieu-sur-Mer.
2. The work done by different universities in the SAARC Region on design and development of the courses will be reviewed by the steering committee scheduled in December in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
3. In case any university fails to complete the assigned task, other associating universities may be contacted by the content coordinator to share the work of course development.
4. The membership of the Academic Board will be extended to include the VCs of Indian Universities attending this meeting.
It will facilitate all associating universities to assess the content details, their relevance and quality of the programme.
Prof. H. P. Dikshit, VC, Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi.
Prof. Suresh Garg, Pro-VC, Indira Gandhi Open University, New Delhi.
Prof. V. S. Prasad, VC, Dr. B R Ambedkar Open University, Hyderabad.
Prof. K. D. Vasava, VC, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University, Ahmedabad.
Prof. Surabhi Banerjee, VC, Netaji Subhas Open University, Kolkata.
Prof. G. S. L. Devra, VC, Kota Open University, Kota, Rajasthan.
Prof. R. K. Singh, VC, Madhya Pradesh Bhoj Open University, Bhopal.
Prof. (Ms.) Usha Singh, VC, Nalanda Open University, Bihar.
Prof. D. P. Singh, VC,U. P. Rajarshi Tandon Open University, Allahabad.
Prof. N. S. Rame Gowda, VC, Karnataka State Open University, Mysore.
Prof. B. P. Sabale, VC, Y. Chavan Maharashtra Open University, Nashik.
A meeting of the Academic Board is tentatively scheduled to take place in Sri Lanka from 16th-18th February 2003.