Isro to power Gujarat education

9 Nov

GANDHINAGAR: For all the euphoria around investment flows in Gujarat, the state fares badly in providing education to its citizens. Even the country’s Education Development Index does not rank Gujarat high.

But the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) may just be able to help Gujarat improve the numbers. It has agreed to a request by the state government to enhance its satellite-based bandwidth for providing education channels by six times.

“We were running only two education satellite – or edusat – channels until now. But we will be able to add another 10 now,” a senior official said. “This will make Gujarat the first state to use the satellite network for educational purposes on such a large scale.”

The government is not only hoping to reach out to more children, but also improve quality of teaching in certain subjects, like English.

So far, Isro’s satellites beam to around 5,000 primary schools and all panchayat offices with TV sets, in the state. “With enhanced bandwidth, we will reach all the 22,000 primary schools by March 2012,” the official said.

Secondary and higher secondary schools, higher and technical institutions will also be covered. The Gujarat Technical University alone wants to use two channels to teach its bachelor of engineering students.

A Unicef-sponsored report, prepared last year by NGO Pratham, had said while Gujarat had one of the best educational infrastructure in India, its quality of primary education was very poor – better only than three states – Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.

The state proposal, which went to Isro in May 2011, has been cleared by the Department of Space and Isro’s Space Commission. It is now pending clearance of Insat Coordination Committee with clearances expected in a month.

The state government would have to pay just Rs 5 crore annually as rent to Isro for using 36 MHz. Edusat programmes are run through Bhaskaracharya Institute for Space Applications and Geo-Informatics (BISAG), are able to deliver lectures mainly to primary children in science, maths and English.

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