It is a long-known truth that audio-visual imagery leaves a lasting impact on the human mind unlike the more traditional textbook oriented forms of learning. Today in India, we have more & more digital classrooms coming up for children. However, why should this facility be limited to children alone? After all, learning is a continuous process & to be able to stay up-to-date with modern ways of teaching, new syllabus etc., teachers too should have access to a modern medium of disseminating information. While Gujarat is the first state to have taken this up seriously with their unique ‘Vande Gujarat’ channel, Maharashtra may follow suit.

What is Vande Gujarat?

A one-of-a-kind endeavour by the Department of Education in Gujarat – ‘Vande Gujarat’ is a completely state-owned set of 16 channels to aid & train teachers. ‘Vande’ in this context stands for Video Audio Network for Development & Education.

Maharashtra-Gujarat scenario:

On 22 September 2018, it was reported that leaving behind Sahyadri, Prasar Bharati-owned Marathi channel, Vande Gujarat was chosen to impart digitalised training to teachers teaching from class I to VIII in Maharashtra board schools. Teachers were asked to install the channel in their TV sets through set-top boxes or access it through JIO App. A 5-day training period was chosen & teachers were asked to tune in anytime in the slot between 9 am – 5 pm to receive the training. The channel would give lessons on the new syllabus & elaborate on how they are to be taught in Marathi.

Consequent criticism:

The BJP-led Maharashtra state government came under much flak following this move.

The first argument of the opposition was why had the government not considered Sahyadri in spite of the channel’s broad reach?
On 28 September, the Nationalist Congress Party mocked that Gujarati should be declared as Maharashtra’s official language & Gandhinagar its new capital.
NCP supremo in Maharashtra, Dhananjay Munde, also alleged that earlier few pages in a Marathi text-book contained Gujarati text.
Minister, School Education, Maharashtra, countered such allegations saying that by depending on Vande Gujarat, they were simply taking the help of a neighbouring state. Moreover, Maharashtra was receiving the service from Gujarat for free.

Teachers Speak:

Political tussles apart, the move of the Maharashtra government has faced specific criticism from teachers as well.

First of all, many opinionated that a virtual medium of training does not give them the opportunity for a two-way communication – when it doubt, the teachers can’t ask questions.
Many teachers also said that the training is being given too late as the first semester examinations are just around the corner.

A channel of Maharashtra’s own:

Mumbai’s Shikshak Parishad wrote to the Maharashtra State Council of Educational Research & Training asking for Maharashtra’s very own teachers’ training channel. The arguments they put forward are-
Gujarat has less number of schools than Maharashtra which boasts 1 lakh schools & 7 lakh teachers. If Gujarat can have its own channel why can’t Maharashtra?
Having an individualistic Marathi channel & not just a single slot will ensure a wider time frame for the teachers to take the training. There should also be provision for repeats of the same training session for those who might have missed it in the first go.
Apart from training the trainers, this channel may be used to reach out to students who are interested in taking competitive exams & thereby winning scholarships.
Though it is a great idea to have a dedicated personalised channel for the sake of a state’s educational development, a few things should always be ensured. Firstly, such a channel should remain far away from the distraction of advertisements & profit-motives. Moreover, it should not be used for entertainment purposes. It will be a difficult task to keep such a medium effective, influential & serious at the same time.