The Distance-Education Programme is a major intervention under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, created, by the MHRD, Government of India, on 1st July 2003, to implement the distance education activities under SSA in the country. Indira Gandhi National Open University is the nodal agency responsible for implementing the distance education component throughout the 28 states and 7 Union Territories of the country. This national level project aims at providing need-based and local specific in-service training for teachers and other elementary education functionaries, by employing distance education methodology.
The DEP-SSA focuses on the quality dimension of teacher training which is crucial for achieving quality education in the country. Effective application of ICT is required to reinforce the knowledge, motivation, commitment and professionalism amongst the teachers, particularly at the elementary education level. Through DEP-SSA, teacher training is imparted without dislocating the functionaries from their place of work and is paced as per their convenience. DEP-SSA activities cater from classes I to VII/VIII all over the country, striving continuously and in a sustained manner to achieve the goals of SSA. It is functioning effectively in the states to achieve the gigantic task of sensitizing the local functionaries such as, Master Trainers, Coordinators of Block Resource Centres and Cluster Resource Centres, faculty of DIETs and SCERT. The DEP-SSA, strengthens the on-going efforts of capacity building at elementary education level, through distance learning inputs i.e. print, audio, video, multimedia and teleconferencing, thereby facilitating work place based training and content generation. It works in close coordination with grassroot level functionaries, like Panchayati Raj Institutions, School Management Committees, Village and Urban Slum level, Education Committees, PTAs and MTAs, for effective management of elementary schools.
Distance Education has tremendous potential to reach out to large numbers in a short span of time and the distance education interventions have impacted the SSA activities significantly in the country. This is evident from the achievements made in the states, in terms of professional development of teachers, classroom transactions, community mobilization, girls’ education etc. The DEP-SSA operates in a mission mode and has thus far trained millions of teachers, teacher educators, para teachers and other functionaries.