Nov 09, 2004
The import of EDUSAT
The launch of EDUSAT by ISRO in Sep,2004 has been viewed by media mostly as a technological feat. Not many are aware it’s part of a grand strategy India has been knitting together since 1975, to take education to everyone. Few countries have prioritised education as India has done.
The Satellite Instructional Television Experiment [SITE] of 1975-76, using an American satellite, whetted India’s appetite for technology driven education. 2400 villages were served with information on hygiene, health and family planning. It met with enthusiastic participation. It was hailed then, as the largest sociological innovation on earth.
By 1983, India’s own INSAT series of satellites were being pressed into service for various uses, education being among them. INSATs went on to train Indian universities to prepare content for remote delivery. The Vishveshwariah Technological University in Karnataka, the Y B Chavan State Open University in Maharashtra and the Rajiv Gandhi Technical University in Madhya Pradesh have for over a decade now, been delivering remote lectures to units affiliated to them.
In 1985, the Indira Gandhi National Open University [IGNOU] was inaugurated to serve off-campus students through correspondence courses. Course materials printed on paper are mailed to over 600,000 students country wide. They are given face-to-face spells of education periodically in 504 study centres. IGNOU has become immensely popular and its courses are valued in several developing countries today. It has also kept abreast of technological developments and has been deploying its content through them. Several websites have also sprung up to assist IGNOU students.
Use of satellites for education continued steadily, until 2002, when India took the momentous decision to dedicate an exclusive geo-synchronous satellite for education. That was the birth of EDUSAT. It is unlikely that any other country made such a decision, before it became affluent.