The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU)

IGNOU has been running some of its programs, here in Ethiopia, in collaboration with St. Mary’s University(SMU) since 2006. Currently it is running post graduate programs, namely, Masters of Business Administration, Masters in Public Administration, Masters in Sociology, Masters in Social Work, Masters of commerce, Masters in Economics, Masters in Rural Development.

Some Features of IGNOU

IGNOU, during its 23 years of existence, has contributed significantly to the qualitative and quantitative development of higher education in India as well as in foreign lands through the ODL mode of delivery. In the year 2008 alone the University’s annual fresh enrollment crossed half a million amounting to cumulative enrolled student strength of nearly 2 million. This amounts to about 15% of the total student population in the universities in India. In a wide use of learner-centric approach, the University has successfully adopted a policy of openness and flexibility in terms of relaxed entry qualifications, period required for completion of a programme and place of study.

IGNOU Programmes on Offer at SMU

St. Mary’s University(SMU) and IGNOU signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to offer IGNOU’s programmes in Ethiopia in May 2006. Following the signing of the MoU, IGNOU’s programmes were officially launched on 18th July 2006. The initial step to bring this high-flying and internationally reputable University to Ethiopia, however, had long been initiated in 2004. With a well-established reputation for offering quality distance programmes in Ethiopia, this partnership scheme identifies St. Mary’s as the first private institution in the country that has begun training at post-graduate level. This pioneer venture in the history of private higher education institutions in the country provided a lot of people with learning-while-working opportunity.

At present over 2000 students are on roll, all attending Master's programmes in nine areas of specialization: Master of Business Administration, Master of Commerce, Master of Arts in Public Administration, Master of Arts in Rural Development, Master of Arts in Economics, Master of Arts in Sociology, Master of Arts in Political Science, Master of Arts in Social Work and Master of Arts in Tourism Management. Increasing enrollments, generally, mean that IGNOU’s Post-Graduate programmes have high demand by the public at large, making the dreams of many working people come true. In addition, a wide range of Post-Graduate Diploma programmes are made available. For all the post-graduate programs, admission commences in January and July of every year and lasts for three months.

Programme Delivery

The methodology of instruction is different from that of conventional Universities. The ODL University system is more learner-oriented and hence the learner is an active participant in the pedagogical (teaching and learning) process. As a result, most of the instructions are imparted through distance education methodology supplemented by intensive face-to-face interactions (academic counseling sessions). The University follows multimedia approach for instruction which comprises: self instructional printed materials, audio-visual materials, academic counseling (tutorial) sessions, teleconferencing, practical/project work, educational broadcast and web-cast.

Evaluation System

The system of evaluation employed by ODL is also different from that of conventional universities. IGNOU has a three-tier evaluation system which involves: (i) self-assessment exercises within each unit of study, (ii) continuous evaluation mainly through assignments which are Tutor-Marked (TMA), practical assignments and seminars/workshops, and (iii) term-end examination and/or project work. The last two evaluation systems are, however, used by the University as the compulsory means of judging the progress of a student.

Relevance of IGNOU Post Graduate Programmes to Ethiopia

The Post Graduate Programmes on offer at SMU:

  •    Are directly related to the National Development Strategies set by the Ethiopian Government;
  •    Provide the work force in every corner of the country with learning-while-working opportunity;
  •    Are highly economical, in terms of tuition fees, i.e. IGNOU’s tuition fees are reasonable and affordable to Ethiopian learners;
  •    Provide opportunities to involve highly qualified professionals in the educational development endeavor as academic counselors during their leisure time;
  •    Enable to retain a huge amount of hard currency expended for training purposes in overseas universities; and
  •    Enable both public and private higher education institutions in the country to get access for well developed reference materials.