LEARNERS opt for distance mode education for various reasons. But rather than dim ambitions, it spurs on the determined. What’s more, this mode has opened the doors for many.
Age no bar for learning
Mukta Lal, 68
Began learning Urdu when she was 65 years old and now transliterates literary works from Urdu to Hindi.
Programme: Certificate course in Urdu (correspondence) from Jamia Millia Islamia’s Arjun Singh Centre for Distance and Open Learning
Mukta’s grandfather and father were both renowned Urdu poets and scholars of their generations. Pakistan’s founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah requested her father, Prof. Jagan Nath “Azad”, a literary giant and academician, to pen the national anthem of the new country. On the night of August 14, 1947, this anthem was broadcast on Radio Lahore.
Despite these illustrious influences, Mukta did not pursue Urdu studies in her youth. Turns out that when she was a child, her Urdu teacher scolded her so badly that she decided never to learn from him again. At the age of 19, she got married and for the next 40 years was immersed in household chores and her secretarial job. Yet, her love for Urdu did not fade and there were several instances, when she wanted to take it up. Ironically, when she had the time, she was not willing to learn and when she wished to learn, she had no time.
The turning point was in 2004, when Mukta pledged to her father on his deathbed, that she would take up the language. He advised her to pursue it through correspondence under the guidance of Dr Abdur Rasheed. So, Mukta finally registered at the age of 65 for a Urdu certificate programme at Jamia’s Arjun Singh Centre for Distance and Open Learning, where Dr Rasheed is an Assistant Professor. Though the programme’s duration is one year, Mukta established long-term association with the instructors who provided her personalised guidance.
Dr Rasheed inspired Mukta to use her learning constructively by transliterating popular books by her grandfather and father into Hindi so that those not familiar with the language could also read and enjoy their famous works. First, she transliterated her grandfather Trilok Chand Mehroom’s ‘Bachon Ki Duniya’, an anthology of poems for children. The recently published Hindi transliteration got a good response from readers. Transliterating two more books is in the pipeline.
Mukta is happy that she could learn and be creative at this stage of life. The credit goes to her dedication for Urdu, continuous guidance of Dr Raseed and his elder brother Abdul Mugni, Managing Director of publishing house, Dilli Kitab Ghar. On the challenge of learning through distance mode, she says that taking admission is the easier part. But completing the course calls for self-discipline.
Dr Rasheed says that every year many passionate learners register for Urdu correspondence course, where they provide personalised support. All at the cost of just Rs. 100.
“IAS is the final destination”
Datta Totewad, 26
From primary school teacher to Assistant Director, Local Fund Audit, Nagpur, Government of Maharashtra
Course: BA from Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University (YCMOU)
“Due to my poor financial conditions, I could not go to college for pursuing graduation and became a primary teacher after 12th,” shares Datta. “But I did not give up and joined a BA at YCMOU. It helped me a lot in reaching my current position,” he adds.
Datta Totewad belongs to rural Nanded district in southeastern part of Maharashtra, bordering Andhra Pradesh. He father is a farmer, and he hails from an economically poor background. He scored 81% marks in Class 12 and 91% in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics put together, but due to family responsibilities, he could not go for higher studies and did a diploma to become a primary teacher. Datta has been struggling throughout his life. He could not go to a regular college as he was employed and opted for a distance programme BA with English and Political Science at YCMOU. “Due to distance education I could afford to continue my studies while working,” he shares.
According to him, even after doing graduation in distance mode, he never faced any difficulty during his studies. “The study material that YCMOU provides is very good and helps you in clearing the Maharashtra Public Service Commission and similar exams. They give you an option to attend classes on Sunday, where you can clear your doubts. Also the students may clear their doubts with the faculty members individually,” he shares. He thinks that self-study is very important and it does not matter too much whether you do a regular course or a distance course.
Hard working and dedicated, Datta was selected for the post of Assistant Commissioner of Police, Maharashtra in 2011 and is due to join, probably by December this year. But Datta is not sitting on his laurels and is preparing for civil services examination. “I want to become an IAS officer and for that I am managing time to study after my office or whenever I get time. That is my real dream and a bigger challenge,” he shares.
Financial constraints forced Datta Totewade, 26, to learn BA through correspondence from YCMOU. The study material helped him clear theMaharashtra Public Service Commission.
“Distance mode by choice, not chance”
Ravi Singh, 38
This Regional Manager at Bata India never attended a full-time course after completing Class 12
Courses: BA correspondence from Delhi University; Part-time MBA from YMCA, Delhi
While taking his Class 12 Board examinations, Ravi was already weaving dreams of starting his own business. He was eager to be financially independent as soon as possible. This was during the pre-liberalization era in 1990; job opportunities were limited but the market was going to slowly open up. Born and brought up in Delhi, Ravi somehow gained knowledge about the garment export business and decided to try his hand at it. Pursuing further studies was also important. So, Ravi registered for a BA correspondence programme from Delhi University.
Every week, five days were reserved for his business and on weekends he was busy at his study centre for contact classes. In three years, in partnership with a friend Ravi did well in business, made some money and completed his graduation. By then liberalization was showing its full impact and companies had begun hiring people with experience in business management and marketing. He got some good offers and switched from business to a full-time job. But Ravi knew the importance of education and a degree like MBA.
Once again, he opted the path of flexible learning and took admission in part-time MBA at YMCA, Delhi. The decision proved to be a fruitful one. He went up the career ladders and worked in companies like Lakme, ITC and Liberty. Ravi is doing quite well in his career and is presently working as Regional Manager at Bata India.
Ravi shares that he still wants to continue his studies but cannot, due to 12-14 hour work schedules and other responsibilities. Ravi’s take is that full-time courses are needed for technical courses but for a marketing career, what matters most is practical knowledge and dedication. No doubt, he learned more while working and even got the required educational qualifications through distance learning. “In my professional life, I always had to prove with my work. No one showed interest in my academic certificates, ” says Ravi.
Does Ravi regret not going for regular college life? His answer is that for some people stamp of a branded college or regular college life may be important but for him what mattered most was to become financially independent and live life on his own terms. Ravi completed his entire education through distance learning and part-time courses. This was a path not chosen by compulsion or in haste. Rather, it was a well-orchestrated plan that led to his success.
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