Pandora’s Box: A New Model for Education in Asia. Distance education. Just say the words and a stereotype comes to mind – a system of education that is “second best.” Many who have only experienced face-to-face education in an institutional setting believe that the quality of education provided through distance education is inferior. However, this is far from true, according to Naveed A. Malik, rector of the Virtual University of Pakistan. In fact, in Asia, distance education using information and communication technologies (ICTs) is proving to be an efficient way of delivering high-quality education using course materials often developed by the best faculty teams. And by making higher education affordable and accessible, it is helping to address equity issues.
“The basic issue is that we have a huge Asian population mass and a corresponding demand for higher education that the existing number of colleges and universities have no ability to address,” says Malik. “Compounding this problem is the fact that we have a very small supply of qualified faculty. This leads to some serious human resource development issues.”
In Pakistan, for example, only 3% of the country’s 18- to 24-year-olds are enrolled in higher education institutions, says Malik. Part of the problem is that students in the countryside must move to the city to get an education. Many cannot afford this.
Moreover, even students with the resources to attend institutions of higher learning are being turned away at the door. These institutions simply don’t have the physical infrastructure or human resources to cope with the number of youth seeking an education.