education channel to go online Jan 1
Now you can watch Kerala government's education channel live on
your laptop as it will go online in the new year.
IT@School ViCTERS (Virtual Classroom Technology on Edusat for
Rural Schools) is the only channel in the state to air specific
Bangalore/Thiruvananthapuram: Indian space agency ISRO has suspended the telecast of popular educational programmes
in many states due to an unidentified glitch in its ground
equipment, says a senior official. As a result, millions of
students have been affected.
"This is the first time we have been asked to suspend conducting
virtual classroom teaching for over three weeks since Feb 3,
affecting about six million students in 12,000 schools across the
state," a top Kerala education department official told IANS.
In a note Feb 12, a copy of which is with IANS, state-run Indian
Space Research Organisation directed the Kerala education
department to keep the hub used to telecast its 17-hour
educational classes in switch off mode due to 'inference issues'
in channel 12 of Insat-4CR communication satellite till Friday.
Other states where telecasting of state-funded educational
programmes is severely affected include Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh,
Tamil Nadu, Assam and Jammu and Kashmir.
The space agency shifted beaming the educational programmes in
November last year to Insat-4CR from its dedicated satellite (Edusat)
after its mission life ended prematurely. Meant for distant
classroom education from school to college levels, Edusat was
launched in September 2004.
"Due to malfunctioning of the ground equipment, we are not able to
relay the signals from the transponder to telecast the
programmes," a senior scientist associated with the satellite
communication and navigation programmes (SCNP) said.
"We are trying to locate the problem and fix it in the next
three-four days so that we can resume the channel," the scientist
added but declined to be identified as he was not authorised to
speak to the media.
The glitch has, however, not affected the operations of other
users of Insat-4CR that was launched in September 2007.
Other users of the satellite include the country's largest telecom
player Airtel, Utkarsh channel, Orissa Space Application Centre
and Bhaskaracharya Institute for Space Applications and
Geo-Informatics though their programmes are beamed through
In addition to the Virtual Classroom Technology on Edusat for
Rural Schools (ViCTERS) of the Kerala education department,
Visvesvaraya Technology University (VTU) and Vidya Vahini in
Karnataka too are users of the satellite for educational
"This is the second time in 10 days we have been directed to keep
the hub switched off for two weeks more. We are not sure if we
will be able to resume the programmes after Friday, as there is no
further directive from ISRO yet," Anwar Sadath, Kerala IT @ School
Project executive director, said.
Launched by former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam in 2006, ViCTERS
is Kerala's Rs.120-crore IT School Project to provide high speed
net connectivity to schools and implement learning management
Veteran journalist Anand Parthasarathy, who anchors a weekly
programme "IT For All" on the channel in Kerala, countered the
official claim and wondered how ISRO was adhering to quality of
service (QoS) conditions by providing its channels to commercial
users from the same satellite, assuring an uptime of 99.9 percent.
"I find it outrageous that a state-run organisation, which meets
its obligations to its paying customers, can with impunity cut off
for weeks a vital educational umbilical that assures distance
education for millions of students," Parthasarathy asserted.
As ISRO is under cloud over the now annulled controversial deal
for allotting scarce S-band spectrum to a private firm (Devas)
without bids, its officials and scientists are wary of admitting
that shortage of transponders and other priorities are forcing
them to shuffle the usage pattern of its channels to users.
With the loss of about 50 transponders due to twin launch failures
and operational glitches in Insat-4B during the last 12 months,
ISRO's commercial arm Antrix Corporation has been forced to lease
a whopping 70 transponders from foreign satellites such as
Intelsat and Measat of Malaysia to meet the demand for space-based
services from private and state-run agencies.
According to a source associated with the programmes, ISRO is
forced to allot the satellite channel meant for Edusat programmes
to its commercial end-users, including television channels, radio
broadcasters and private/public institutions as part of its
service commitments and contractual obligations.
"Due to non-availability of the terrestrial channel, we are
suffering a lot, as preparation for the board exams from next
month is affected. We conduct revision classes to students
appearing in the final exams through the channel, which is also
aired by thousands of cable operators as part of the package,"