Meeting of the Academic Council of SAF Distance Learning, 18th April 2004

Conference New Delhi, India - 18th April 2004

A meeting of the Academic Council of SAF Distance Learning was held at SAF-India office on 18th April at 10.00 am.

Before the agenda was formally taken up, Ambassador Madanjeet Singh welcomed all present. In his introductory remarks he made the following observations:

- It is imperative that each university sets up an SAF-Madanjeet Singh Scholarship Cell.

- All participating universities must identify "Scholarship Coordinator" and Content Coordinator, if they have not done so already and intimate the names and their coordinates to Prof. S C Garg, Chief Coordinator SAF Madanjeet Singh Scholarship Scheme and Mr. Aditya Sharma, SAF India office.

- IGNOU, which is the coordinating agency for India for the Scheme, has already set up such a unit with Dr. Ved Goel in charge.

Ambassador Singh further informed that the next SAF General Conference will be held in Pakistan in February 2005 by which time the PGD-ESD should be on offer by each University and the work on the up-grading of PGD-ESD to Masters program, and programs of Teacher Training and South Asian Studies should be at an advanced stage of development and ready for presentation at the proposed General Conference.

Ambassador Singh also pointed out that he is writing a book giving a panoramic view of the events leading to the setting up of the South Asia Foundation and the activities undertaken by it in the last two years. The title of the book will be "The Sasia Story" which would be in English to begin with and it should be ready before the next SAF General Conference. The book will be translated into several vernacular languages of the south Asian countries and published locally in each country for wider distribution. The royalties generated from the sale of the book will be utilized to create more Scholarships.

Thereafter he requested Prof. H.P. Dikshit, VC, IGNOU to preside the proceedings.

Item No.1 To fix a date for launching the PGD-ESD

1.1 With the permission of the chair, Prof. S.C. Garg, the SAF content coordinator proposed that Item 1 and item 4 be taken up for discussion together as both these items were inter-related.

1.2 It was agreed that every participating and collaborating University should launch PGD-ESD at the latest by January 2005. In this context, Prof. Garg provided CDs of all materials to VCs of OUSL, BOU, BRAC University, and Prof. Suresh Raj Sharma. Prof. Ershadul Bari, VC BOU assured that the course which was assigned to Bangladesh Open University would be sent at the latest by 3rd April. He also informed VCs of SOU that copies will be sent to them as soon as copies are received from BOU.

1.3 For the upgrading of the PGD-ESD to the Masters program, the universities that were involved in the development of the course material for the PGID-ESD.

1.4 The timetable fixed for design & development of materials is as indicated below:

25th April 2004: Identification of courses and receipt of suggestions from different Universities.   

1st May 2004: Names of courses to be communicated to the Content Coordinator along with three preferences for developing the material.   

30th May 2004: Names to be finalized by the Content Coordinator in consultation with Open Universities.   

20th June 2004: Broad outline of courses to be developed for courses assigned.

1.5 The content coordinator will inform the SAF Founder about the pattern of funding to the participating Universities for development of the allotted courses. This may be done by 3rd June 2004.

1.6 The approval of the Academic Council of SAFDL for contents to be developed will be obtained through circulation.

1.7 Since the MoU signed earlier by the participating universities was only for the development of courses for PGD-ESD program, it would be necessary to extend the MoU to undertake the course development for Masters level program including the funding aspect.

1.8 It was agreed that in the preparation of these courses, variation could be taken care of by way of optional courses by individual Universities.

Item No.2 To determine the parameters of teacher training programme and its implementation

2.1 With respect to teacher training programmes, it was decided that to begin with steps may be taken to launch a teacher training programme for in-service primary teachers.

2.2 In this context Prof. Dikshit suggested that each country should gather basic details such as number of untrained teachers, geographical spread and coverage etc to establish the need for teacher training and serve as a road map. He also suggested that to begin with, focus should be on the backlog of untrained in service teachers. Fresh candidates can be considered subsequently. He further suggested that IT components could be added to these courses.

2.3 It was agreed that to derive optimum utilization, already available courses/materials should be pooled. This will avoid duplication of effort and minimize development costs. It was noted that SAF's support for the development of course materials would be restricted to 50% and the other 50% should be met by the institution concerned. Details of such available courses should be sent to Prof. Garg on or before 3rd May 2004.

Item No.3 Possibility of adopting BRAC courses on South Asian Studies to be included in SAFDL

3.1 Prof. J.R. Chowdhury, in his brief introductory remarks observed that the course on South Asian Studies developed by BRAC University is an evening course/part-time program with lO courses. However, no course material has been developed as it is a lecture based program leaving the content to the teacher concerned.

3.2 Prof. H.P. Dikshit suggested that before the course on South Asian Studies is taken up for transformation to SIM, every University should examine the outline developed by BRAC University and send comments to the Content Coordinator at the earliest.

3.3 Ambassador Singh asked the participating universities to identify the course content already developed, if any, by the participating universities / institutions. He also suggested examining how the already developed content can be utilized in the proposed program and thus save on cost.

3.4 It was decided that the curriculum of the proposed course will be finalized in consultation with the open universities, at the latest by 17th May 2004.

3.5 It was also suggested that courses such as Bio-informatics and tele-medicine be taken under SAFDL initiative.


Item No.4 Upgrading the PG Diploma to Masters level

4.1 Please refer to Item No. 1 as this item was considered along with item No. 1.

Item No.5 Implementation of SAF-Madanjeet Singh Scholarships

5.1 Prof Coomaraswamy informed that all the universities need to sign the MoU. So far * as India is concerned, the MoU and Guidelines have to be approved by Ambassador Singh before the agreements are signed by the individual universities and the founder of the SAF. It was decided that the proposed draft will be sent by the Chief Scholarship Coordinator for India to each University, after it has been approved by H.E. Ambassador Singh.

5.2 Delegates from Nepal requested that since there is no open university in their country and setting up of a department of distance education may take some time, Nepal be allowed to use their quota of scholarships for a vocational stream only. Its request was accepted as a special case for one year. Thereafter the University in Nepal will also be governed by the uniform pattern.

5.3 Dr. Ved Goel of IGNOU made a presentation on Technical and Vocational Education. A copy of the powerpoint presentation made by him is placed at Annexe IL.

5.4 In the discussion that followed it was agreed that:

- For vocational education/training there should be flexibility in the eligibility criteria e.g. even street children not having any formal education should have access to scholarships for acquiring skills of their vocation.

- Scholarships for a vocational stream in Bangladesh will be coordinated by the Vice-Chancellor, BRAC University in consultation with the Chairperson, SAF Bangladesh.

5.5 So far as scholarship disbursement is concerned, the Sri Lankan model is peculiar to that country. Variations for countries other than India will be looked into by Prof. Coomaraswamy.

So far as India is concerned, IGNOU will collect information from all open universities in the country and send a consolidated statement to the SAF, which in turn will authorize the bank to disburse the amounts directly to the selected students.

5.6 SAF-Madanjeet Singh Scholarships for the SOS Villages could be through face to face mode as well.

5.7 SAF-Madanjeet Singh Scholarships for the Scouts/Guides to be offered through IGNOU.

5.8 In order to award one third scholarships each year to a fresh batch of students, it was decided that Universities other than India will evolve a mechanism in consultation with RE Ambassador Singh. For India, the proposal was to award all scholarships every year with one third of them being offered to new entrants.

The meeting ended with a vote of thanks to the Chair.

List of Participants

1. Ambassador Madanjeet Singh, Founder, South Asia Foundation
2. Prof. H.P. Dikshît, Vice-Chancellor, Indira Gandhi National Open University
3. Prof. (Ms.) Uma Coomaraswamy, Vice-Chancellor, The Open University of Sri Lanka
4. Prof. Ershadul Bad, Vice-Chancellor, Bangladesh Open University
5. Prof. H.N. Bhattarai, Member-Secretary, University Grants Commission, Nepal
6. Prof. Suresh Raj Sharma, Vice-Chancellor, Kathmandu University
7. Prof. B P Sabale, Vice-Chancellor, YCMOU, Nashik
8. Prof. D P Singh, Vice-Chancellor, U P Rajarshi Tandon Open University
9. Prof. (Ms.) Surabhi Banerjee, Vice-Chancellor, Netaji Subhas Open University
10. Prof. M S Palanicharny, Vice-Chancellor, Tamil Nadu Open University
11. Prof. (Ms.) K Sudha Rao, Vice-Chancellor, Kamataka State Open University
12. Prof. (Ms.) A. M. Merchant, Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Babsaheb Ambedkar Open University
13. Prof. R V Vyas, Vice-Chancellor (Officiating), VMOU, Kota
14. Prof. P. Ramaiah, Rector, Dr. B R Ambedkar Open University
15. Dr. Ved Goel, Director, International Division, IGNOU
16. Prof. S. C. Garg, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Indira Gandhi National Open University


Organized educational programmes.
Prepare individuals for employment?generating and income-generating activities.
Engage learners in work-related learning.
Built on strategic partnerships between institution, business, industry and the wider community.


25-30% scholarships to be earmarked each year to students offering vocational education.

Vocational Education in Indian Open Universities

Most students employed in relevant industry/business.
Programme fee includes fee for practical training.
Standards of performance determined in consultation with industry.
Appropriate task assignments designed to achieve standards of performance.

Practical training provided at work centres located in relevant companies / industries / institutions.
Performance criteria to include acceptable level of performance determined as a basis of assessment.

Requirements for new Centers Launching Vocational Education

Carry out needs assessment.
Identify partner institution from industry / business.
Determine competences and standards of performance.

Expert Committee Meetings for development of Programme Structure.

- Identify course materials (textbooks?), prepare study guides/lab manuals.

- Identify Programme Study Centers / Work Centers.

- Negotiate fee for practical work to be charged by the industry (if any).

- Determine programme fee.

- Launch programmes.

Issues Need Consolidation

- Which programmes will qualify for TVET?

- Will employed people earning less than the norms laid down by SAF be eligible for scholarship?

- Will undergraduate programmes qualify for scholarships?

- If fee for the programme is less than $300 can the balance be used to increase number of scholarships?