New Policy On Distance Learning In Higher Education Sector

In pursuance to the announcement of 100 days agenda of HRD of ministry by Hon’ble Human Resources development Minister, a New Policy on Distance Learning In Higher Education Sector was drafted.

BACKGROUND

1. In terms of Entry 66 of List 1 of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India, Parliament is competent to make laws for the coordination and determination of standards in institutions for higher education for research, and scientific and technical institutions. Parliament has enacted laws for discharging this responsibility through: the University Grants Commission (UGC) for general Higher Education, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) for Technical Education; and other Statutory bodies for other disciplines. As regards higher education, through the distance mode, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) Act, 1985 was enacted with the following two prime objectives, among others: (a) To provide opportunities for higher education to a large segment of population, especially disadvantaged groups living in remote and rural areas, adults, housewives and working people; and (b) to encourage Open University and Distance Education Systems in the educational pattern of the country and to coordinate and determine the standards in such systems.

2. The history of distance learning or education through distance mode in India, goes way back when the universities started offering education through distance mode in the name of Correspondence Courses through their Directorate/School of Correspondence Education. In those days, the courses in humanities and/or in commerce were offered through correspondence and taken by those, who, owing to various reasons, including limited number of seats in regular courses, employability, problems of access to the institutions of higher learning etc., could not get themselves enrolled in the conventional `face-to-face’ mode `in-class’ programmes.

3. In the recent past, the demand for higher education has increased enormously throughout the country because of awareness about the significance of higher education, whereas the system of higher education could not accommodate this ever increasing demand.

4. Under the circumstances, a number of institutions including deemed universities, private universities, public (Government) universities and even other institutions, which are not empowered to award degrees, have started cashing on the situation by offering distance education programmes in a large number of disciplines, ranging from humanities to engineering and management etc., and at different levels (certificate to under-graduate and post-graduate degrees). There is always a danger that some of these institutions may become `degree mills’ offering sub- standard/poor quality education, consequently eroding the credibility of degrees and other qualifications awarded through the distance mode. This calls for a far higher degree of coordination among the concerned statutory authorities, primarily, UGC, AICTE and IGNOU and its authority – the Distance Education Council (DEC).

5. Government of India had clarified its position in respect of recognition of degrees, earned through the distance mode, for employment under it vide Gazette Notification No. 44 dated 1.3.1995.

6. Despite the risks referred to in para 4 above, the significance of distance education in providing quality education and training cannot be ignored. Distance Mode of education has an important role for:

(i)providing opportunity of learning to those, who do not have direct access to face to face teaching, working persons, house-wives etc.
(ii)providing opportunity to working professionals to update their knowledge, enabling them to switchover to new disciplines and professions and enhancing their qualifications for career advancement.
(iii)exploiting the potential of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the teaching and learning process; and
(iv)achieving the target of 15% of GER by the end of 11th Plan and 20% by the end of 12th five year Plan.

7. In order to discharge the Constitutional responsibility of determination and maintenance of the standards in Higher Education, by ensuring coordination among various statutory regulatory authorities as also to ensure the promotion of open and distance education system in the country to meet the aspirations of all cross-sections of people for higher education, the following policy in respect of distance learning is laid down:

(a) In order to ensure proper coordination in regulation of standards of higher education in different disciplines through various modes [i.e. face to face and distance] as also to ensure credibility of degrees/diploma and certificates awarded by Indian Universities and other Education Institutes, an apex body, namely, National Commission for Higher Education and Research shall be established in line with the recommendations of Prof. Yash Pal Committee/National Knowledge Commission. A Standing Committee on Open and Distance

Education of the said Commission, shall undertake the job of coordination, determination and maintenance of standards of education through the distance mode. Pending establishment of this body:

(i) Only those programmes, which do not involve extensive practical course work, shall be permissible through the distance mode.

(ii) Universities / institutions shall frame ordinances / regulations / rules, as the case may be, spelling out the outline of the programmes to be offered through the distance mode indicating the number of required credits, list of courses with assigned credits, reading references in addition to self learning material, hours of study, contact classes at study centres, assignments, examination and evaluation process, grading etc.

(iii) DEC of IGNOU shall only assess the competence of university/institute in respect of conducting distance education programmes by a team of experts, whose report shall be placed before the Council of DEC for consideration.

(iv) The approval shall be given only after consideration by Council of DEC and not by Chairperson, DEC. For the purpose, minimum number of mandatory meetings of DEC may be prescribed.

(v) AICTE would be directed under section 20 (1) of AICTE Act 1987 to ensure accreditation of the programmes in Computer Sciences, Information Technology and Management purposed to be offered by an institute/university through the distance mode, by National Board of Accreditation (NBA).

(vi) UGC and AICTE would be directed under section 20 (1) of their respective Acts to frame detailed regulations prescribing standards for various programmes/courses, offered through the distance mode under their mandate,

(vii) No university/institute, except the universities established by or under an Act of Parliament/State Legislature before 1985, shall offer any programme through the distance mode, henceforth, without approval from DEC and accreditation by NBA. However, the universities/institutions already offering programmes in Humanities, Commerce/Business/Social Sciences/Computer Sciences and Information Technology and Management, may be allowed to continue, subject to the condition to obtain fresh approval from DEC and accreditation from NBA within one year, failing which they shall have to discontinue the programme and the entire onus with respect to the academic career and financial losses of the students enrolled with them, shall be on such institutions/universities.

(viii) In light of observation of Apex Court, ex-post-facto approval granted by any authority for distance education shall not be honoured and granted henceforth. However, the universities established by or under an Act of education programmes in the streams of Humanities/Commerce/Social Sciences before the year 1991 shall be excluded from this policy.

(ix) The students who have been awarded degrees through distance mode by the universities without taking prior approval of DEC and other statutory bodies, shall be given one chance, provided they fulfil the requirement of minimum standards as prescribed by the UGC, AICTE or any other relevant Statutory Authority through Regulation, to appear in examinations in such papers as decided by the university designated to conduct the examination. If these students qualify in this examination, the university concerned shall issue a certificate. The degree along with the said qualifying certificate may be recognised for the purpose of employment/promotion under Central Government.

(x) A clarification shall be issued with reference to Gazette Notification No. 44 dated 1.3.1995 that it shall not be applicable on to the degrees/diplomas awarded by the universities established by or under an Act of Parliament or State Legislature before 1985, in the streams of Humanities/Commerce and Social Sciences.

(xi) The policy initiatives spelt out in succeeding paragraphs shall be equally applicable to institutions offering distance education/intending to offer distance education.

(b) All universities and institutions offering programmes through the distance mode shall need to have prior recognition/approval for offering such programmes and accreditation from designated competent authority, mandatorily in respect of the programmes offered by them. The violators of this shall be liable for appropriate penalty as prescribed by law. The universities/institutions offering education through distance mode and found involved in cheating of students/people by giving wrong/false information or wilfully suppressing the information shall also be dealt with strictly under the penal provisions of law.

(c) The universities / institutes shall have their own study centres for face to face counselling and removal of difficulties as also to seek other academic and administrative assistance. Franchising of distance education by any university, institutions whether public or private shall not be allowed.

(d ) The universities /institutions shall only offer such programmes through distance mode which are on offer on their campuses through conventional mode. In case of open universities, they shall necessarily have the required departments and faculties prior to offering relevant programmes through distance mode.

(e) It would be mandatory for all universities and education institutions offering distance education to use Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in delivery of their programmes, management of the student and university affairs through a web portal or any other such platform. The said platform shall invariably, display in public domain, the information about the statutory and other approvals along with other necessary information about the programmes on offer through distance mode, their accreditation and students enrolled, year- wise, etc. This may be linked to a national database, as and when created, to facilitate the stakeholders to take a view on the recognition of the degrees for the purpose of academic pursuit or employment with/under them.

(f) All universities/education institutions shall make optimal use of e-learning contents for delivery/offering their programmes through distance mode. They shall also be encouraged/required to adopt e-surveillance technology for conduct of clean, fair and transparent examinations.

(g) The focus of distance education shall be to provide opportunity of education to people at educationally disadvantaged situations such as living in remote and rural areas, adults with no or limited access to education of their choice etc.

(h) In order to promote flexible and need based learning, choice-based credit system shall be promoted and all ODE institutions shall be encouraged to adopt this system and evolve a mechanism for acceptance and transfer of credits of the courses successfully completed by students in face-to-face or distance mode. For the purpose, establishment of a credit bank may be considered. Similarly, conventional universities, offering face to face mode programmes shall be encouraged to accept the credits earned by the students through distance mode. A switch over from annual to semester system shall be essential.

(i) Convergence of the face-to-face mode teaching departments of conventional universities with their distance education directorates/correspondence course wings as also with open universities/institutions offering distance education, shall be impressed upon to bridge the gap in distance and conventional face-to-face mode of education.

(j) Reputed Foreign education providers well established, recognized and accredited by competent authority in their country and willing to offer their education programmes in India shall be allowed, subject to the fulfillment of the legal requirement of the country.

(k) A National Information and Communication Technology infrastructure for networking of ODE institutions shall be created under National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology.

(l) Efforts would be made to create favourable environment for research in Open and Distance Education (ODE) system by setting up infrastructure like e- libraries, digital data-base, online journals, holding regular workshops, seminars etc.

(m) Training and orientation programmes for educators and administrators in ODE system with focus on use of ICT and self-learning practice, shall be encouraged.

(n) ODE institutions shall be encouraged to take care the educational needs of learners with disabilities and senior citizens.

(o) An official notification clarifying the issue of recognition of academic qualification, earned through distance mode, for the purpose of employment, shall be issued.

Business & Technology Crack – Does Business Drives Technology or Technology Drives Business?

Information Technology and the move to a computerized infrastructure model are bringing great changes to many industries. Often it is the CIO of the company who escort this fundamental shift in the business revenue stream. Leading others through modernization, revolutionize and transformation means you must be able to make changes yourself.

Forget about asking whether technology drives business or business drives technology. Stop perturbing about whether or not technology is strategic. Silence all the confusions about how advance this technology is to that technology. In technology, there are numerous questions that if you have to ask, you probably already know and don’t like the answer. A more satisfying line of inquiry is how much of your technological horsepower is actually being used to turn the wheels of innovation.

Some people says that Technology drives business modernization, novelty, success & Innovations that opens up new doors of opportunities, improves the company’s performance on the whole, sharpens the company’s market intelligence, and makes new things possible for the clients. Another school of thought is that the Business Drives Technology, as such integration is about assisting business to facilitate their profitability by utilizing technology and other resources available to the enterprise. But realistically speaking, the driving force comes from the CEO and CIO of the company, who both endeavor to leverage technology to its fullest potential.

In a society that has become entirely dependent on computers and immediate communications, technology is becoming the heartbeat in the process of office design as decisions on layout and services. Some aspects of technology, like the computer animation & communication, are highly visible demonstration devices. But more of it is in the largely unseen infrastructure, with the emphasis on sophisticated wiring and smart communication devices to provide for an ever greater flow, and on communications and power facilities to keep operations running through almost any anticipated calamity.

In the modernization of the today’s businesses, Common business drivers include; Mergers and Acquisitions, Internal Reorganizations, Application and System Consolidation, Inconsistent/Duplicated/Fragmented Data, New Business Strategies, Compliance with Government Regulations, Streamlining Business Processes. To achieve the success in the accommodation of these business drivers, the sturdy and smart input would be required from both the parties i.e. the business as well as the technology.

In a company, you could cover every surface in your office with how to manage change. But one aspect of change management that often dodges IT Managers is how to better influence corporate colleagues. If information technology drives business decisions, the IT executives must communicate and be persuasive with other department heads on key project management issues.

Strategic planning for Information Technology is one component of an overall company vision for success. This psychoanalysis facilitates IT professionals to successfully define short and long-term goals and ascertain the resources necessary to apprehend such goals. To ensure success, the strategic plan should be developed in a thorough but rapid manner, consist of a brief, succinct compilation of analyzed data, and provide opportunities by which additional planning and analysis can occur.

Several important benefits occur as the result of a successful strategic IT plan. First, employees are provided with an understanding of how their role fits in with the overall company structure. Also, this planning allows managers to realize additional opportunities for growth and success. Finally, important relationships between technology investment and positive outcomes, such as increased market share, are revealed.

It’s now become the industry dilemma that IT people need to know more about business. They need to understand the disciplines and the lingo of business process management, business performance management, customer relationship management, supply chain management, financial management, human resources management, operations management, etc. Lacking that knowledge, communication with business people and understanding of business requirements will forever be troubled.

On the other hand the Business people should also drive their efforts to know more about information technology. As with all communication and relationship issues, this is not a prejudiced problem. Just as IT people need to become more business-oriented, business people need to be more IT-oriented. They need to understand the roles and relationships among the many different kinds of technology upon which their information systems depend, and they need to understand the dependencies among those technologies. Business people need to have a working knowledge of the technology stack as it affects their capability to get information, perform business analysis, and make informed business decisions.

Beyond the relatively straight-forward needs of business becoming IT-oriented and technologists becoming business-oriented, there lies a new challenge. We must develop common understanding and shared perspective of value, an issue that is both a business concern and a technology consideration. When business and IT have different meaning and outlook for value, conflicts are certain to arise.

Business and IT organizations often have two evidently different perspectives of value. IT expert generally take a data-to-value approach. Where Data produces information, information enhances knowledge, knowledge drives action, action produces outcomes, and favorable outcomes deliver value. Business management typically uses a goals-to-value system. Business drivers and goals determine strategies, strategies drive tactics, which in turn produce results, and positive results produce value.

Effective business/IT relationships are ultimately a question of alignment. New IT skills, new business skills, and new perspectives that sets the stage for business/IT alignment. But it doesn’t assure alignment. To achieve genuine association there are several things that must be done; some by IT, some by the business, and some collectively.

Conflicts between business and IT organizations have existed from the very beginning of automated Information Systems. We have accelerated in so many ways both in business and in technology. However, the problem still pestilences most of the businesses. The Business/IT crack must go away. The cost is high; the value is null; and the barriers that it crafts grow bigger each moment. The problem can be fixed, and the time to fix it is now!

Pervaiz Pyar Ali holds advanced degrees in both Business Management and Computer Science. Having worked in the Banking industry for the last five years in Pakistan, Pervaiz has formulated several projects in his organization.

Growth Consultant: Giving New Direction To Your Business!

Earning substantial profit is the main objective of every business and for this it is imperative that your business grows in significant direction keeping pace with changing scenario. Because, if a businessmen continues to follow conventional methods of conducting business he might not be able to stay even in competition with his contenders and may lag in competition.

For the continuous growth of business it is indispensable to keep a strict eye on every change taking place across the business world. The relevance of keeping an eye on changing scenario increases more today’s age because today as an impact of globalization business operators are blessed with vast opportunities of exploring their business throughout the world in short span of time.

Days have gone back when business operators centralized their activities within a limited region, but now the time has arrived when they need to move ahead by eliminating cultural and demographic traits and transfer their orthodox business model into customer centric, best in its segment, broadening potentials of growth with feasible profits from business.

To assist the business owners in moving their business according to changing environment, growth consultants can play an incredible role in getting the infrastructure of their business keep changing in accordance to global market.

The growth consultants provide their expert advice and suggestions to business groups and may even help them in getting those suggestions implemented in organization in determined strategy. These consultants make business operators understand the drawbacks of orthodox business concepts and make them realize the changing role of not so recognized sections like women and youth in growth of an organization. They make business owners understand the contribution which they can make in exploring their business.

Moving ahead they also make them realize the changing nature of consumer behavior and how they can succeed in offering varied services and products to their multicultural consumers located in different regions of world.

The consultants of growth help business groups in:

1. Re-evaluating the core targets and models of their business

2. Identifying the gaps in their value delivery systems

3. Make them understand whether their strategies of VP communication are misfiring or not;

4. Generating the identity of their brand in accordance with values, beliefs and strengths of new worlds market place (NWMP)

5. Selecting and strengthening their value propositions and competitive differences

But sharing business details with an unknown person is not an easy task for any business operators and therefore it is necessary to get assured that information shared with consultant will stay restricted only with him and not affected by any kind of elusion. The selection of growth consultant should be done after proper research about his past experiences and knowledge.

As a general practice need of a growth consultant is felt when:

1. Growth of your business has stagnated

2. You are not able to make appropriate use of the available sources

3. When you are speculating to introduce a new initiative in market

How do growth consultants assist the business groups?

The growth consultants conduct an intensive study of every aspect related with your business on your behalf and then point out the pros and cons of your business comparing with your contenders.

After analyzing your business they find potentials of your growth keeping the changing atmosphere and making system approach for your business according to recent trends. They also help you in assessing the results and difference in your business after implementation of their recommendations. This strategy will help you in achieving desired success in your business in appropriate direction.

Epilogue: To enjoy substantial profit on their investment every business owner expects his business to grow in significant direction. But, sometimes as they are not able to analyze the marketing atmosphere or competition they face from their contenders they are deprived from the success which they deserve to enjoy from their business. It is the time when they need someone to guide them and let their business move on the path of success. Growth consultant could play an incredible role in making their dream come by analyzing their business and suggest them necessary measure which they should adopt in making their business a huge success.

9 Reasons Why You Should Choose Independent Birth Education

So you’re pregnant, want the very best birth for you and your baby and want to get your hands on as much information as possible! Here’s 9 great reasons why independent childbirth education is going to help give you the best chance possible at the most positive experience. So, why should you choose independent childbirth education? Because…

1. Independent Educators Are Specialists In What They Do

When you choose an independent educator, they are trained specifically in birth education. Some are also skilled in other areas including midwifery, birth attendants (doulas), natural therapists and more. Birth education is a major component of an independent educator’s work, compared to a hospital which may or may not have specialised educators. Many hospitals rotate midwives and/or physiotherapists into the job of running birth education classes, so you never know who you’ll get, what their philosophies and attitudes towards birth are and let’s face it – they may not even like presenting birth education. It may be a part of their job they are required to do. Either way, educators as passionate about education.

Independent educators know the right way to encourage both yourself and your partner to feel comfortable and engaged. You don’t want a presenter to start a session with something like this (said in a smug fashion), “You all probably want a natural birth right now, but around 40% of you are going to end up with caesareans anyway.” This is what one of my clients told me happened in their classes. Nice positive way to start the session! Sure it might be true (some of our hospitals have caesarean rates even higher than this) but negativity is catching and it’s all in how you present it. The class apparently went downhill from there so my clients walked out soon after. They went on to have one on one independent education and loved it.

Even if you’ve had a bad experience before, great birth education is so important, so don’t give up – find something better! Don’t settle for maccas when you can have a lamb roast with all the trimmings! There’s lots more you can learn from independent education that you’ve not heard in hospital based classes.

2. Information is Not Hospital Policy Biased

Hospitals all have varying maternity policies (and know that policy is not law, so you don’t have to legally do anything they tell you) so whoever makes the decisions can influence what you hear and what you can and can’t do.

Policies can be/are based on reducing potential legislation, making birth progress to their own time preferences so there are beds available, making things easier or ‘safe’ for staff – even if it’s not in the mother’s best interest. Yes that sounds strange, but in a leading Melbourne private hospital, I have seen midwives refuse to let women birth on the floor (on a mat/squatting etc) because of occupational health and safety apparently (the midwife also said she didn’t want to stand on her head to ‘deliver’ her baby). She then went on to repeatedly tell the mother to lie on her back and get off her hands and knees to make it easier. Luckily dad firmly said no.

If you’ve had hospital education (or believe what you see on t.v.!), you might think that’s just how you’re supposed to do it – “Ahhhh, I need to get on the bed and lie down my back!” which in labour becomes, “Gees it’s really painful in this position and I don’t know if I can cope anymore.” I had my two children in a private hospital and thinking about this bed issue later I found it curious that I had unconsciously gravitated towards the bed when I arrived. I guess it happened because the bed is in the centre of an empty room and I felt clueless and unsure of what to do, with no tools or decent knowledge under my belt. Lucky I know better since my births.

Most hospitals like you to be compliant and on the bed most of the time, when it’s the last place you want to be for a good labour. However, if you’ve had independent education, you would know that pushing while on your back is not only more painful, but much less effective – in fact it’s THE least productive position to push in. Why? Because your uterus which normally contracts away (or upwards if you’re lying down) from your body, which means it will be working against gravity if you are lying down. Women in labour naturally want to lean forward – something your pelvis does when it contracts, so it makes sense to work with it. Your pelvis is also least open when on your back, whereas squatting gives you up to 30% more pelvic space. Thats something pretty neat I learnt after I had given birth – but not what you’ll hear in hospital classes. And if you end up in a private hospital like the one I mentioned, you might not even be able to do that, further reason why they do not have their hospital built with the premise of helping you have the best/easiest birth possible.

Remember a hospital is a business and has business issues to consider firstly and foremostly. They don’t open with the premise to give women the best experience possible, but to have a functioning maternity unit and to succeed as a business.

3. You’ll See Birth DVDs Designed To Inspire Not Frighten

Believe it or not, there is actually a birth DVD that’s been in circulation for years in some hospitals where the labouring woman is yelling something like, ‘Get me a gun so I can shoot myself.’ This and many other DVDs have result in couples walking out of their classes feeling like they cannot cope with a vaginal birth, serving to further convince them that they actually do need drugs for the birth – just like all their friends have told them. There are many factors that result in how a woman copes in labour and this is a big blow from the start. The DVD I saw when I was having my daughter was a mother in a hospital bed, screaming in pain, who then asked for an epidural and then she was really happy. What sort of message do you think this sends out to a first time, nervous expectant mother and father?

The DVDs some hospitals show are definitely not productive nor appropriate, whereas DVD’s you see in independent classes are very inspiring, uplifting and show you the potential of your own body.

4. You’ll Gain Many More Tools For Natural Pain Relief

Both yourself and your partner will have more confidence on how to cope with the tougher parts to labour if you are given more options and tools for natural pain relief. That one thing that ends up being your lifesaver, helping you get through without pain relief, may be so simple. If you happen to be in a class which skims this part of the education or omits it altogether in preference of pharmaceutical pain relief, then that’s the path you are most likely to take – because you don’t know any other options and you just cannot think about it and what you want in labour (apart from wanting to get the baby out – NOW!). You are also being given an important insight into the philosophy of the hospital when they teach pain relief in the form of drugs. I remember one client telling me that her hospital (a large Melbourne private hospital) had birth classes which was very detailed about pain relief – there was lots of information about epidurals and other drugs. I ended up asking a midwife during her labour why this was so, her reply, ‘Well most women walk in here wanting epidurals, so we just teach them what they want to know about.’ Too bad for the woman that would like to labour without one.

5. You Will Find Out ALL Your Options

Again, independent birth educators do not operate based on policy, but what is possible for you – what options and rights you have as a labouring couple. There will be no ‘we do this’ or ‘we do that’ only, ‘you could choose to do this’ or ‘you could choose to do that’ – with the pros and cons both ways. It is a much more balanced view of what’s possible, with the view that your body is extremely capable – and not just what everyone else is like.

6. You Do Pay For What You Get

Birth educators educate for a living, their livelihood depends on presenting great classes which couples enjoy. Great word of mouth feedback comes from their clients who leave the classes feeling great about birth – informed, empowered and educated.

So it’s in their best interest to make sure the class is worth it to you, since it’s their own business and not someone else’s. Some hospitals offer their classes for free, some don’t – either way your money is best invested in independent education. I was shocked at how much I wasn’t told in a hospital class, after attending independent classes during my training as a birth attendant. I even felt angry for some time – the care factor is so much more evident during independent classes. The educators genuinely want you to have a great experience and have great philosophies about birth.

7. You Know Who You Are Getting

Independent birth educators often operate individually or in a small team, so you will know who you are getting. You will be able to find out what their testimonials and feedback are like before you go, so you know you are getting a great service. They are also happy to take your calls and questions before and after the classes and trying to locate them isn’t as difficult as in a big establishment!

8. Helps Partners Get More Involved

Because more time is spent on tools you can use, and the classes are more in depth in general, fathers-to-be learn much more and feel more comfortable getting involved – which is good for dads-to-be and good for mum-to-be. It’s so important that a partner learns and understands what’s going on during labour, as a support person who panics or is unsettled in labour will have the same effect on the mum – she needs someone solid as a rock to get her through. Pain relief is often used by mothers to help escape that horrible feeling of not being supported, or when she feels frightened or anxious.

If a partner only knows that if there is pain, the only way he can help is to offer pain relief, then that’s likely where the birth will go. Men tend to be ‘fixers’, they like to fix, and there is nothing wrong with that, but this puts them very much outside their comfort zone in birth, where there is nothing he can do to take it all away. Labour is not a time for saving or fixing, but encouraging and reassuring!

9. It Will Help Better Form Your Birth Preferences (aka Plan)

If you are more aware of your options and choices, then you will be able to have a more in-depth discussion with your partner and your support people about the choices in your birth plan. You will have more control over what you want, rather than feeling you have to ‘leave it to the experts.’ You don’t need to be an expert to have a great, empowered birth, but you do need to inform yourself and your support people and make choices based on what you have learnt. And the best, unbiased place to learn about your REAL options and gain more knowledge and tools for your birth is through independent childbirth education.

Where Can I Find An Independent Educator?

In Australia, NACE are the National Association of Childbirth Educators, and can help you locate a member in your area. Some educators I recommend in Melbourne, Victoria (but are not limited to) include:

* About Birth
* Birthing Wisdom (Rhea Dempsey) workshops
* Birth by Di Diddle
* Wonderful Birth by Lina Clerke

For the Men

A great book I recommend to all men is Men At Birth by David Vernon. It’s a great book written by Australian men, for men.

Important to Note

While there are some brilliant birth educators out there, it’s really important that every birthing couple realises that it’s not birth classes alone that will get them across the line. Yes, they are a great start and will likely have you thinking about lots of things you hadn’t already thought about, but all your choices as a whole will shape your birth, not just education. The carer you choose, the hospital (or not!) you birth in, your support people and the philosophy of all of those things and the books you read can impact on what sort of birth you end up having.

For example, if you really want a natural birth and have chosen an Obstetrician and private hospital – then you have chosen the statistically worst option for avoiding interventions including pain relief, caesarean sections, assisted delivery – there are plenty of pieces that make up a puzzle. Check out our article, Natural Birth – Giving Yourself The Best Chance for more information.