From TV channels to online degrees, govt pushes for e-learning

NEW DELHI :
A dozen television channels dedicated to teaching school curriculums and 100 universities offering online degree courses from the end of May form the backbone of a government push for e-learning unveiled on Sunday.

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the government will launch PM eVidya, a programme for multi-mode access to digital education, and this will include the existing Diskha portal for online content, one designated TV channel for each class in the school segment, exclusive use of radio and community radio, and online degree programmes.

“The platform unifies all efforts related to digital/online/on-air education to enable multi-mode access to education benefiting 33 crore students,’ HRD minister Ramesh Pokhriyal added.

Sitharaman said educational institutions are using technology in a big way and that the government already broadcasts school education content through three TV channels. “Another 12 channels are to be added. One class, one channel will also be part of this. Then there will be extensive use of radio community radio (for education purposes).”

Sitharaman said 100 top universities in the country are to start online degree courses by 30 May “automatically”. It means these universities can offer online degrees without seeking fresh approval from regulators.

This, the government believes, will benefit students who cannot attend classes due to the lockdown.

Online education, however, comes with its share of challenges, ranging from internet bandwidth to availability of electricity, and the health hazard of increased screen time for students.

“The covid-19 pandemic has disrupted the education system. It has pushed the demand for online courses and content at all level. Traditional players will have to adopt e-learning for their growth and business viability,” said Himanshu Gupta, managing director of S. Chand group, a traditional book publisher that has now started offering online content to its 40,000 school clients.

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