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32 free DTH educational channels on Dish TV & FreeDish start functioning

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NEW DELHI: Thirty-two direct-to-home educational channels under the name Swayam Prabha were formally launched during the weekend to telecast high-quality educational content free of charge.

Launching the channels which will be beamed via the GSAT-15 satellite transponders and will shortly be available both on Dish TV as well as Doordarshan’s FreeDish, President Pranab Mukherjee said the use of satellite technology to reach the unreached is time-tested. He was happy to note that the scale and reach of this technology has been raised manifold through the 32 Swayam Prabha DTH channels. These channels will help students in the rural areas and in the remote areas where IT infrastructure have not penetrated so well.

These channels transmit four hours of fresh content every day, and contain lectures from the best teachers in the country. There is no monthly charge for viewing these channels. These channels include the IIT-PAL channels which were intended to help students taking the prestigious JEE examination, taught by the IIT faculty.

In a function organised on the eve of the Guru Poornima, a day for salutation to teachers, the President also launched the Swayam portal that has become fully functional.

The portal enables one to take courses offered by the best teachers, remaining where they are. Swayam should be a call to the pioneers amongst teachers to put new courses in the upcoming areas on this platform in the MOOCs format. It is also a call to the other teachers to use this material and improve their own teaching capacity. Ultimately, it should lead to better attainment levels in the students.

With the launch of Swayam, India has become one of the few countries in the world which has its own online interactive learning platform that provides not only video lectures and reading material, but also assignments/quizzes that could end up in securing credits after completing the assessment system. More than 400 Courses are available on Swayam covering all the engineering and non-engineering subjects at undergraduate and post-graduate levels. The University Grants Commission has already issued Regulation that allows transfer of credits earned through the courses done through Swayam into the academic record of the students. It is now possible for the students and others to take courses of the prestigious IITs or IIMs without formally studying there. The platform has been constructed by Microsoft with totally indigenous efforts.

Mukherjee also launched the National Academic Depository at the National Convention on Digital Initiatives organized by Ministry of Human Resource Development in New Delhi.

Speaking on the occasion, the president said the spread of technology, telecom penetration and internet has offered an opportunity to quell the divide in terms of access and quality. Digital technology enables good teachers to directly teach large number of students who are not physically present in classes. ICT solutions offer an interactive learning experience through which students in remote parts of the country can benefit from lectures of the top teachers. The digital modes are cheaper, more easily accessible, interactive, and offer flexibility for people to learn at their own pace. We need to work together to ensure that they are widely adopted for teaching.

The president said that the National Academic Depository would help in easy authentication of the credentials issued by the institutions. This would also help in increasing transparency and ease of operation. The several other digital initiatives taken up under the National Mission on Education through ICT (NMEICT) being showcased today should help all in going the digital way in order to improve the quality of teaching.

He said during the last five years, he had been emphasizing on improving the quality of education whenever he met Vice Chancellors of central universities, Directors of IITs, NITs and IISc/ IISERs. The conferences at Rashtrapati Bhavan have also acted as platforms for nurturing ideas. Many initiatives and ideas like the GIAN, IMPRINT and GRIN have taken root here. He called upon participants present there to ensure that these initiatives are taken to their logical conclusion for the benefit of the nation.

Human resource development minister Prakash Javadekar and MoS Mahendra Nath Pandey were also present on the occasion.

The president has expressed hope that these digital initiatives would help in producing the highly qualified youth required for the Make in India campaign. He exhorted all the higher educational institution to march on the path of educational excellence consisting of creation of new knowledge and dissemination of the same for the benefit of the nation. It was an emotional moment for the president since many of these initiatives have taken shape under his guidance as visitor of these institutions.

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