We have channels for movies, why not have one for education? asks Bombay HC
The Bombay high court (HC) on Monday directed the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) and the National Council for Education, Research and Training (NCERT) to consider having dedicated television and radio channels for education, especially to cater to the needs of differently-abled students who do not have access to education due to technological and mobile connectivity issues.
The court said as many regions had connectivity issues and students do not necessarily have smart phones to attend classes through online meeting platforms, and as most households had television and radio sets, the need of the hour was to fall back on past technologies to ensure that the differently-abled students did not lose out on the academic year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The division bench of chief justice Dipankar Datta and justice Girish Kulkarni was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by the National Association for the Blind (NAB). During the course of hearing, advocate Uday Warunjikar –who represented the petitioner body – informed the bench that visually impaired students had been deprived of education during the pandemic and the state and Central governments should be directed to formulate policies to provide the same.
Warunjikar submitted that students attending normal schools had been getting education through online learning mode. However, many regions in the state, especially rural areas, do not have proper connectivity, as a result of which online classes could not be conducted and there was an apprehension that there would be a loss of the entire academic year.
This, he said, was more of a concern for specially-abled students as out of the 200 schools for the visually impaired in the state, very few had the wherewithal for online education. He added that though the state had started televised classes through the channel DD Sahyadri, it did not suffice for specially-abled students.
On a query from the court on how the state was imparting education to specially-abled and other students in rural areas, assistant government pleader Reena Salunke responded that both students were being provided education through online meeting platforms such as Google Meet and Zoom. She added that areas which had network issues, teachers were making home visits.
However, the court observed that connectivity issues in rural areas was a pertinent problem and suggested that there should be dedicated education channel on television and radio for all students. The bench then asked advocate Rui Rodrigues for NCERT to speak with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) to consider the court’s suggestion and asked the Centre and state to explore imparting education through Doordarshan and Akashwani.
“We have dedicated TV channels that show live proceedings of Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha and in the near future we may have live streaming of judicial proceedings too. Then why can’t there be devoted channels for education, not only for specially-abled students but even for those who have suffered. We have to go back to old technology now as the network issue will continue,” observed the court.
“There are hundreds of channels for movies and entertainment, not one for education. We cannot have only colleges, schools and no academics. People in rural areas might not have funds to buy smartphones, but they need to get access to education,” added the bench.
The bench has sought MIB’s feedback by the next hearing on Thursday and asked it to not wait for the court order to implement such a decision.