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Indira Gandhi National Open University: Integrating higher education reform with national development goals

Brenda S Robinson, University of Massachusetts Amherst


In less developed nations, higher education is often viewed as extravagent, especially if it is unrelated to national development goals. India is no exception. Higher education is constantly generating critical comments, for it is mired in tradition, stagnant, often corrupt and irrelevant to the nation's development needs. Furthermore, India's colonial system of higher education is rigid, conservative, expensive, inaccessible for most of the population, and produces graduates who are unemployable. Higher education reform, in fact--educational reform at all levels--has been recommended since the Kothari Committee shortly after Independence in 1947. While the system has grown in numbers of students and institutions, it has not changed to accommodate the increasing enrollment of students or the technological advances that have changed the world. Following the assassination of Indira Gandhi, the nation was in chaos. During the address presented at his inaugural as Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi professed the reforms needed to unite the country and carry it to the 20th century as a self-reliant nation. A priority was education. Within this educational recommendation was the creation of the Indira Gandhi National Open University, designed to meet the development needs of the nation through an innovative method of higher education. It was to attend to continuing education, promote national unity, and offer programs of study which would be relevant to the nation's employment and economic needs. This innovative approach was coordinated with conceptualization of the Seventh Five-Year Plan. A proposal to integrate development goals and education was included in the Sixth Five-Year Plan, but had not been implemented. The Seventh Plan again proposed a coordination of development objectives and educational programming. The Indira Gandhi National Open University was proposed as a vehicle to integrate national development goals with education.

Subject Area

Higher education|Educational administration

Recommended Citation

Robinson, Brenda S, "Indira Gandhi National Open University: Integrating higher education reform with national development goals" (1989). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9001560.