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Remember Balchitravani’s TV shows on DD? It won’t make educational videos for students anymore

Mumbai city news: The institute was set up in 1984 to produce educational audio and video content for schoolchildren and teachers

mumbai Updated: Jun 01, 2017 09:41 IST
Puja Pednekar
Puja Pednekar
Hindustan Times
Mumbai city news,Balchitravani,Education
Balchitravani produced 6,000 educational videos that were telecast on Doordarshan between 1986 and July 2012.(HT illustration)

The school education department has shut down a 33-year-old institution that made educational videos for schoolchildren as it could not keep up with the mobile apps of today.

It’s a familiar tale of modern technology’s far-reaching effects.

The State Institute of Educational Technology, popularly known as Balchitravani, on Wednesday pulled down its shutters and let go of all 35 employees. They were paid a month’s salary in keeping with labour laws, a government resolution said.

The institute’s was set up in 1984 to produce educational audio and video content for schoolchildren and teachers. They were broadcast on television.

But with educational apps for mobile phones flooding the market, and in an age when anyone can shoot a video using their own devices, Balchitravani found itself becoming redundant.

In one last-ditch effort, the department launched the MITRA App in 2017. The app allowed teachers from across the state to upload their own videos on unique teaching and learning practices. They were shared on the app so the teachers can learn from each other.

Not only were they competing with a whole new platform, Balchitravani was also incurring losses as the Centre had stopped funding it in 2014, officials said.

It turned autonomous, so grants stopped and Doordarshan began charging them to airing their content.“The institute was no longer needed and it could not sustain itself after the Centre withdrew aid,” said Nand Kumar, principal secretary of the department.After it turned autonomous, it had no means to sustain itself and could not even afford to pay salaries to its employees. Employees stopped getting thier salaries from 2014 to 2016. Disgruntled, they moved court. The court ordered the department’s textbook bureau, Balbharti, to bail them out by loaning them money for salaries.

Balbharti paid them Rs4 crores a year, but Balchitravani was in no position to return the money.

“The department’s finances were in bad shape. The state repeatedly requested the Centre to shut it down, but no attention was paid to it until now,” said Kumar.

But Balchitravani will live on in a new avatar. The state will replace it with e-Balbharti, which will produce e-books and digital content for schools affiliated to the Maharashtra state board. “E-Balbharti will take this forward and produce ebooks, so that soon, we can stop publishing print books,” said Kumar

First Published: Jun 01, 2017 00:50 IST