Driven by a passion for Malayalam, the former VC enrolls as a PG student at a new university – The New Indian Express | Team Cansler

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THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: It’s not often that a newly formed university gets a former vice chancellor as a student, and that’s in their inaugural series. Sree Narayana Guru Open University (SNGOU) received this rare award as former Vice Chancellor of Kerala University, Public Health Expert and Former State Planning Committee Member Dr. B. Ekbal attended the University’s MA Malayalam course, which is offered in distance learning mode.

A former neurosurgeon, 75-year-old Ekbal has nurtured his passion for studying Malayalam literature for many decades.

He arrived at SNGOU headquarters on Thursday and handed over documents to the university’s vice chancellor, SV Sudheer, as part of the enrollment formalities.

“I had enrolled in a number of online courses offered by foreign universities in virology and public health after my retirement. But doing a Masters in Malayalam is special as I grew up in a family that had a close affinity with Malayalam language and literature,” Ekbal told TNIE.

Ekbal’s late brother BM Hussain was a faculty member in Malayalam at Kerala University’s School of Distance Education. His niece Vineetha, who is a secondary school teacher, also did her Masters in Malayalam. Ekbal said Malayalam writers Kavumbai Balakrishnan and PK Rajasekharan encouraged him to take the course.

So what drives Ekbal to relentlessly pursue his academic pursuits when others his own age choose to live quiet, secluded lives? “For me, life is a continuous learning experience. We should always keep up to date with something new. There is so much to study in the world,” said Ekbal, who has authored over two dozen books.

The Kollam-headquartered university, where Ekbal recently enrolled as an undergraduate, received approval from the UGC to offer a total of seven programs this year. These include MA in English and Malayalam and BA in Malayalam, English, Hindi, Sanskrit and Arabic. SNGOU programs offer blended-mode learning followed by leading international universities. In addition to direct lessons, virtual courses are also offered and study material is also made available to students in e-content mode.

Ekbal suggested that there should be no barrier to attending more than one distance learning course at a time. “If you have the time and inclination, why not?” asked Ekbal, who is also pursuing master’s degrees in English and economics. The Thiruvananthapuram Center of the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) has seen a large number of both current and retired IAS and IPS officers enroll in their various programs.

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