‘EDUSAT’, India’s first thematic satellite dedicated exclusively for educational services, was used extensively to cater to a wide range of interactive educational delivery modes like one-way TV broadcast, video conferencing, computer conferencing, web-based instructions, etc. EDUSAT had manifold objectives - to supplement the curriculum-based teaching, imparting effective teacher training, providing access to quality resource persons and new technologies, thus finally resulting in taking education to every nook and corner of India. EDUSAT provided connectivity to schools, colleges and higher levels of education and also supported non-formal education including development communication.
EDUSAT Programme was implemented in three phases: pilot, semi-operational and operational phases. Pilot projects were conducted during 2004 in Karnataka, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh with 300 terminals. The experiences of pilot projects were adopted in semi-operational and operational phases. During semi-operational phase, almost all the states and major national agencies were covered under EDUSAT programme. The networks were expanded under operational phase with funding by respective state governments/user agencies.
The networks implemented under EDUSAT programme comprise two types of terminals, namely, Satellite Interactive Terminals (SITs) and Receive Only Terminals (ROTs). As on December 2012, a total of 83 networks have been implemented connecting to about 56,164 schools and colleges (4,943 SITs and 51,221 ROTs) covering 26 States and 3 Union Territories of the country. Efforts are on to implement Tele-education network in Uttar Pradesh. About 15 million students are getting benefited through EDUSAT programme every year.
The tele-education networks established by ISRO include the networks set up for users with special requirements like:
- Blind People’s Association (BPA) of Gujarat – for Visually challenged
- Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI)
- Central Institute of Mentally Retarded (CIMR) in Kerala
- C-DAC for Mentally challenged in Kerala
The EDUSAT (GSAT-3) satellite provided its services till September-2010, supporting Tele-education, Telemedicine and Village Resource Centres (VRC) projects of ISRO. After its de-commissioning, the traffic of Tele-education networks was migrated to other ISRO satellites. Most of the tele-education networks operating in Ku-band were migrated from GSAT-3 to INSAT-4CR and those in Ext. C-band networks were migrated to INSAT-3A, INSAT-3C and GSAT-12. Migration of remaining few networks is in the pipeline.
The Technical Support and Training Centre (TSTC) is established at Guwahati, Assam to provide technical support on continuous basis to all the Remote Sites, Hubs and Teaching-Ends of various state networks in the North East Region. The efforts are being initiated to setup similar TSTCs for Northern parts of the country, namely, Uttarakhand and Jammu & Kashmir.
The ‘Network Monitoring Facility’ established at DECU, Ahmedabad is used to obtain the feedback on the utilisation and assess the quality of programmes transmitted on Ku and Ext C Band EDUSAT networks.
As a special impetus to providing support to tele-education networks installed in North-East (NE) States, support for annual maintenance and hub operations is extended by ISRO. A Users’ Meet of NE EDUSAT networks was conducted at North East-Space Applications Centre (NE-SAC), Shillong, with an objective to campaign for enhancing the utilisation.
Continuous technical consultations/guidance on operations and maintenance are provided to various user agencies at national level as well as state level.
Technical Support to the Rajasthan EDUSAT network is provided in establishing interactive ROT network using GSM technology.