CAG report shows how Edusat is off the orbit in Punjab
The programme was launched by ISRO in September 2004, exclusively for the education sector, in collaboration with the Union HRD ministry and IGNOU.punjab Updated: Mar 24, 2018 12:33 IST
Lack of planning, absence of monitoring and inadequate infrastructure severely affected the implementation of the Edusat programme — use of a dedicated satellite to share educational material — in Punjab, said a report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), for the period 2014 to 2017. Many schools were not covered and student participation was poor even in schools that were, revealed the report (2016-17), tabled in the state assembly on Thursday .
“The upkeep of the equipment left a lot to be desired as all the satellite interactive terminals (SITs) and many receive-only terminals (ROTs) were non-functional since June 2014,” it said. SITs allow two-way communication, while ROTs only receive the set material.
While e-libraries were also not installed due to non-availability of adequate space in the school buildings, non-availability of required number of technical staff impacted smooth running of network of SITs/ROTs, it added.
The programme was launched by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in September 2004, exclusively for the education sector, in collaboration with the Union human resource development ministry and Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU). The state government launched it in January 2008 for addressing shortage of trained teachers, lack of quality teaching, teacher absenteeism, and need for improvement in science, mathematics and English.
About the implementing agency — Punjab Edusat Society (PES) that is headed by the state’s director general of school education (DGSE) — the audit said that its general body and its executive committee met only once between 2014 and 2017 “as against 12 meetings required to be held”. The audit test checked records of PES and 145 out of 813 high and secondary schools in five districts, and found that the society neither prepared any long-term plan nor any annual action plan.
“PES executive committee authorised to take decisions regarding the project implementation and expansion was to meet as and when necessary but not later than once in a quarter...” However, “It lost opportunities for course corrections and initiate remedial measures on crucial fronts such as repair of key equipment and poor student participation”.
“The objective of providing extensive reach of quality education remained largely unachieved,” the report said, adding that adequate funds were also not provided for the programme.
As per the memorandum of association, the state government was to make use of Edusat network for all its high and secondary schools, but it decided to set up interactive terminals in senior secondary schools having science stream, and receive-only terminals were provided for humanities students. As a result, 436 schools had both SITs and ROTs, and 3,289 schools had only ROTs.
“The schools were to be provided with e-libraries for uniform quality education and generator sets for uninterrupted power supply. Out of 3,605 schools, e-libraries were not available in 622 schools (17%) and generator sets not provided in 2,602 (72%) schools,” said the report.
Another major shortcoming was on the participation front. Data supplied by the 145 selected schools showed that in 91 schools (63%) lectures were not attended by the students from 2014 to 2017. School principals attributed non-attendance to signal problem and non-synchronisation of lectures with the syllabus, noted the audit report.