Edusat goals still 'unfulfilled'

India’s maiden educational satellite Edusat, which made headlines nine years ago, is virtually a failure as more than 50 per cent of its capacity remained idle and only a handful of states showed the interest to utilise the satellite for distance education.

Most of the satellite’s beaming capacity remained idle during six years of its life, and some of the transponders were even used to repeat broadcast the teleserial “Mahabharata”.
The Rs 549-crore Edusat programme was meant to address an acute shortage of qualified teachers at schools and higher-education institutes, improve drop-out rates in schools and provide both formal and non-formal education.

It was meant to operate in a hub-and-spoke model. From a hub in the state capitals, educational programmes (content) were to be beamed up to the satellite, which then was to transmit the programmes in universities, colleges and schools in remote areas.

To receive the programmes, universities and colleges were to have satellite interactive terminals (SITs) while schools were to have receive-only terminals (ROTs). Each state was to have 1,200 SITs and innumerable ROTs so that maximum number of students could take advantage of the India's first dedicated education satellite. As of June 2013, large states with substantial illiterate population, like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Jharkhand and Assam, did not have any ROTs in any schools. Only Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh have some ROTs, though other than Haryana, the numbers are far from satisfactory.

The SITs' situation is slightly better. But Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Assam, Uttarakhand, Himachal, Gujarat and Goa have no SITs, clearly showing lack of interest on part of the states.

“The objective of reaching satellite-based education to unreachable poor masses remained unachieved to a large extent despite having incurred huge expenditure,” said the Comptroller and Auditor General in its report tabled in Parliament.

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