Open and Distance Learning (ODL): Quest for Social Justice beyond Access
Course correction steered by out-of-the-box thinking, far from the sickeningly dominant business-as-usual attitude, is imperative, should higher education in general and open and distance learning (ODL) in particular achieve social justice in terms of human development, i.e., improving the quality of life of people. Radical changes in such areas as governance, administration/management, funding patterns, faculty hiring, curriculum framing including instructional design and learner support systems, etc., therefore, are warranted in the context of ODL to make it sufficiently robust in order to be increasingly responsive to the learning needs of the society in which it operates. Are we prepared for, or at the least, inclined towards radical changes? With the emerging geopolitical scenario; ever-increasing digital societies that serendipitously flatten the world; emergence of new economic superpowers in the global South, etc., and their impact on demography, culture and particularly higher education, ODL has to, of necessity, come under the reformist scalpel to flush out some of its burdensome traditions. // Making education accessible is one thing, making quality education accessible is quite another, and it is the latter that will complement the social justice exercise undertaken in the education sector with the advent of the ODL in India about half a century ago. It is in this context that the paper urges all the stakeholders concerned to interpret social justice, as it pertains to ODL, against a broad canvass of quality human development, of which access is but a part.