Friday, March 03, 2006.
A fortnight before the Gujarat Secondary Board Examination, class X students of Andhjan Vividhlaxi Vidhyalaya at Jamnagar are revising English grammar with the help of their teacher, an MA in English and a TOEFL expert, who is more than 300 kms away in Ahmedabad.
The distance learning classes to strengthen grammar fundamentals among such visually-impaired students have been possible due to audio conferencing through Edusat, an education satellite of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). The modern technology has been utlised to impart quality education in schools for the visually-impaired in general and prepare them for their first board examination in particular.
The modern technology involving satellite and digital equipment has enabled over 2,000 students at 10 blind schools across Gujarat to revise subjects like Mathematics, Science, English, Hindi and Social Studies before the board examinations, which will begin from March 16.
''The courses have been completed at the schools. Now, through audio conferencing, we are taking the help of experts for the final preparation,'' said Naran Patel, a stundent of AVV.
''We come prepared with doubts. During the conference, we clear them through discussion with the teacher at the other end using a phone line,'' said Ibjust Rajpura. Students like Khumansinh Jadeja are always eager for audio conferences to discuss several points with students from other centres.
Since the broadcasting on the 188 KU band of Edusat started more than two months back, there have been lectures, interviews and discussions on a daily basis for the visually-impaired students. While on regular days the topics vary from general knowledge to literature, when exams are approaching the students are given guidance for their board subjects.
''Experts in every subject are not available everywhere. The satellite link-up has enabled us to bring together students with visual disability and different experts,'' said Ranchod Soni, project co-ordinator and an English teacher with the Blind People's Association (BPA) at Ahmedabad.
With the help of ISRO (Ahmedabad), a studio to broadcast programmes has been installed at BPA, which through Edusat is connected with 10 blind schools at Jamnagar, Bhavnagar, Idar, Dahod, Visnagar, Surat, Sayla, Mehsana and Kapdvanj.
''We have installed a digital sound and data-based receiver at our school to receive signals through satellite. A modem contacted to a computer converts the signals into analog sound waves,'' said Prakash Mankodi, a trustee of BPA and head of AVS at Jamnagar. This programme has had a positive psychological effect too. ''These students have realised that like others they can also use modern technology to improve their standard of education. A sense of confidence can be noticed among the students,'' said Mankodi.
According to Bhargav Thakkar, Director of Development and Education Communication at ISRO (Ahmedabad), this is the first of its kind of project globally where satellite technology has been used to impart education to visually-impaired students. Gujarat is the only state in India which can boast of this system. ISRO has been planning to extend the network to other states in as well.
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