No Signal, No School

While snow days might elicit cries of joy from kids here in the US, half-way around the world loss of a satellite signal might shutter the school house doors, albeit without as much elation.

The Indian Express (an online source for news from India) reported last week that many small towns and villages throughout India regularly suffer visual freezes for up to 10 minutes on live telecasts transmitted over the country’s EDUSAT education-only satellite. What’s worse is that residents of the country’s wetter northern regions occasionally lose access to the system for days and weeks at a time when rain blocks clear access to the bird.

The irony of the system’s failure, of course, is that it might be preventing those tasked with fixing its problem in the future from learning from it. While post graduate sociology students and civil service aspirants, who have been completely tuned out of the ongoing Maharashtra Public Service Commission (MPSC) exam coaching currently going on are rumored to be the one’s losing the most, Anna University, whose schools use the satellite system, educates engineers at 250 locations around the country.

If you didn’t already know about it, the EDUSAT, launched in 2004, is a path-breaking project that aims to insure access to education to everyone throughout the world’s largest democracy and is the first satellite meant exclusively for formal education, ranging from grade school to higher education. According to the Indian News article,

"It provides audio-visual lessons employing Direct To Home (DTH) quality broadcast. The satellite has multiple regional beams covering different parts of India — five Ku-band transponders with spot beams covering northern, north-eastern, eastern, southern and western regions and six C-band transponders with their footprints covering the entire country."