EDUSAT – project is great, but where are the teachers?

ISRO is planning to launch a 2,000 Kg satellite EDUSAT exclusively for
education with 12 Ku-band transponders at a cost of Rs 200 Crores that can
support 5,000 remote terminals and 25-30 upward links. It is expected to be in
place by July 2004. A pilot project with 70 engineering colleges got
connected in a ceremony that was kicked off by the Karnataka Chief Minister
Shri SM Krishna in the presence of ISRO Chairman Dr Nair (and the former
Chairman Dr Kasturirangan, MP) on January 26, 2004
. A series of
consultative meetings are being held in Ahmedabad, Chennai, and Kharagpur &
Delhi. Considerable work is going on in planning the ground station equipment;
financial resources are being arranged. Expectation is building up; a Kerala
daily even wrote that education will reach millions at zero cost; lack of
teachers will not stop the IT revolution in India

While a satellite for education is an excellent idea, one should not lose
sight of the hard reality
; availability of inexpensive books of
exceptional quality does not lead to everyone getting educated; web sites with
enormous wealth of information & knowledge does not make the world intelligent
overnight; libraries and Internet are great enablers of education but no
substitute for education; the same is true of EDUSAT, it will NOT substitute
teachers for high quality education.

The real focus must be on teachers, the true “deliverers” in the value
chain, particularly in higher education. Unfortunately, I do not find anyone
talking about teachers in the EDUSAT program (I hope I am wrong in my view).
We need a strategy to identify high quality teachers; then we need incentives
for them to be part of this innovative experiment; last, but not the least, we
need to sustain and grow this tribe of high quality teachers. They, and
they alone can solve the real problems of higher education in India; of course
aided by the satellite they can solve the problem faster; but without those
teachers any number of satellites can not and will not solve the problem!

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