e-Vidya in Gurugram: Taking stock of One Class-One Channel 2 years after its launch

February 9, 2022

PM e-Vidya was launched under the ambit of the ‘One Nation One Digital Platform’ program in May, 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic which disrupted the education of millions of school going children in India. Using a multi-mode setup of remote learning platforms such as radio, TV, internet and podcasts, it aims to support all students and especially those, who do not have access to stable internet and thus struggle to keep up with online classes.

One of the initiatives under e-Vidya is One Class-One Channel, that was recently touched upon by FM Nirmala Sitharaman while presenting the Budget for 2022. The program includes 12 channels, soon to be expanded to 200, that broadcast curriculum content for children from classes 1 through 12 every day. The content, in English and Hindi, is developed by NCERT, CBSE, KVS, NIOS etc. The channels run 24 hours a day, with 4 hours of new content each day which is repeated 5 times so children can easily choose a time slot that suits them.

While the scheme sounds good on paper, the realities on the ground are very different. For one, the channels, clustered under SwayamPrabha-Free DTH channel for education, are available only to those households who have subscribed to Dish TV and DD Free Dish. In the semi-urban areas we operate in, most community members do not have either of these set top boxes. Tata Sky and Airtel have recently agreed to start broadcasting some educational content on free channels, but these are limited and only cover the higher classes.

Secondly, our own teachers at Agrasar Bachpan spent several hours in 2021 trying to find the channels on their respective TVs in vain since there is limited information available online or from the DTH operators. The timetable and schedule for different programs, classes and mediums of instruction is also hard to access. It took a long time for the author of this blogpost to find relevant information online, so one can only imagine how difficult it is for underprivileged children and their parents, with limited resources and time at their disposal.

Thirdly, an app with information about daily schedules is supposed to be available for downloading on iOS and Android, but again, it is unclear which app this is, given Umang, Swayam, SwayamPrabha etc. are all touted as government led educational apps.

In the past two years we have not heard of anyone in the Sikanderpur or Islampur communities watching these channels or inquire about them, leading us to conclude that there is very little awareness on the same in the semi-urban areas of Gurugram atleast. Due to paucity of information, we have been unable to promote the same ourselves even though we run a robust child education program and have been regularly communicating with children and their parents throughout the pandemic as well as teachers in different government schools.

While 200 TV channels, in various regional languages, as announced by FM Sitharaman is no doubt a step forward, there is a dire need to step up awareness of the same in the underprivileged and tribal areas that the scheme intends to target. Without large scale promotion and easy access to the channels, the benefits won’t reach those who need it the most. And children at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder will continue to be deprived of enriching education while also suffering the various other ill-effects of Covid.

Ankita Srivastava