Ahead of Lok Sabha elections, the government will launch 50 educational channels beaming lectures real time to students. Expected to be launched on the next Republic Day, the channels will be free to air, with content from IITs, Central Universities and Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU).
The Pallam Raju-led education ministry is eying over a thousand education channels across streams and disciplines in various Indian languages to reach quality education to the remotest of areas.
While the Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry has been pushing for educational channels for nearly two years now, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) have objected, pointing out that no government department is permitted to launch Direct to Home (DTH) channels under the current policies. A Committee of Secretaries has since 2012 been attempting to thrash out a compromise. At a meeting last week by the Cabinet Secretary, it was resolved that HRD Ministry will sign an MoU with Prasar Bharti which will hold broadcasting licence. A consortium of education channels will enter into an agreement with Prasar Bharti for content development. The Department of Space has agreed to lease two transponders.
Each institute will be given Rs 50 lakh by the HRD Ministry from funds with the National Mission on Education through ICT to set up TV studios. "There will be 20-25-minute live lectures by eminent faculty across prominent institutes, and students will be able to put queries to teachers. They will be able to sms queries on a given number and the teacher will be able to answer right away," an official said.
In June 2011, the ministry sought I&B Ministry's nod to launch some 1,000 education channels. The I&B Ministry, in May 2012 declined permission citing new guidelines issued in December 2011. It said permission can only be given to a company registered under the Companies Act.