The goings on in the State relating to issues connected with distance education should be bewildering to the already affected students of Karnataka State Open University (KSOU) as they have been suggested by none other than Additional Chief Secretary of Karnataka to contemplate joining other colleges to get a degree, hinting that the possibility of the Open Varsity getting recognition by the UGC was a distant dream. The officer, who also heads a high-powered panel to look into the KSOU imbroglio and suggest corrective measures, has hinted that the most sensible choice for the beleaguered students would be to join other institutions, thus hanging the future of over 3 lakh students in balance. This statement by the bureaucrat goes on to say that there is no light at the end of the tunnel. There are students who have completed their course as long back as three years. Who will compensate the loss? They cannot help but curse their fate for this impasse and the current prospect of knowing their status on the portal of KSOU.
The oft heard lament by public speakers which include elected representatives that education has been commercialised to the point of denying it to the economically weaker sections of society is nothing short of crocodile tears. Even as Karnataka is yet to take a final call on the status of KSOU, the State Higher Education Minister is blaming the UGC for refusing to give him an appointment and the Union HRD Minister for not responding to him despite several reminders stating, “We have fulfilled all their requirements.”
The HRD Minister, who was attending a seminar in Bengaluru recently, is learnt to have assured the former BJP Minister from Mysuru that he would make all efforts to convince the UGC on renewing the recognition of KSOU when the latter apprised the Central Minister over the gravity of the situation as already two students have committed suicide after the UGC de-recognised KSOU courses in June 2016 retrospectively from the academic year 2013-14.
As one reader of this newspaper, who has witnessed the goings on at KSOU from close quarters since its nascent stage when it was started in two rooms of Crawford Hall as ICC & CE (Institute of Correspondence Course and Continuing Education), put it in Reader’s column: “This situation was waiting to happen and it took so long is a mystery.” Not many are aware that the degree was being awarded by the University of Mysore. When the intake of students per year for a particular discipline in Manasagangothri was about 30, the strength of students for the same course in KSOU would cross the 1000-mark. When both these PG degrees are equal to each other in employment arena, the sudden surge in MAs caused lot of problems for job-seekers, contributing to academic inflation. Who will compensate for the time lost and money spent by these hapless students? Who will be held accountable for the mess? Will they ever be punished?