School TV: Bihar’s Initiative To Fight Lac Of Access To Online Classes Amidst COVID-19


Ruchi Kumari, a Class 10 student at a state school in the Kamtoul region of Madhubani, may now have been used to study in the absence of physical classrooms through ‘often dull’ online classes, but it’s ‘School TV’ — a medley of education, entrepreneurship and extracurricular weekend programs broadcast on Doordarshan — that she finds more creative and engaging.

Although these programs are intended for Classes 9 to 12, Ruchi said her sister Shambhavi, a student of Class 6, is joining her out of curiosity, and that it would have been easier if School TV could also integrate programs on Mithila paintings and contemporary dance.

School TV and BEP

Similar suggestions are now being made to the Bihar School Education Project (BEP) WhatsApp groups under the Department of Education to raise the morale of BEP officials, who otherwise worked hard between Mondays and Fridays on the receptibility of the department’s online classes on Doordarshan.

With no signs of the opening of schools, the education department is focussing on improving content, with classes on photography, computer coding, cartooning, arts and craft, yoga, career counselling, cooking, and anger and stress management being very popular with students.

Shailendra Kumar Sah, a Class 10 student at a government school in Begusarai’s Tegra, said, “At a time when classes are not running, we have School TV programmes which prepare ourselves to take real-life challenges. It talks about our areas of interest and also if it can get us jobs.”

Bihar Education Project’s Special Project Officer Kiran Kumari said, “When we started online programmes for school texts, we thought of doing something innovative and forward-looking. This is where School TV came in with support from our content provider, Going To School, a voluntary group working with us since 2012.

“We engaged professionals to send their videos. We engaged IT experts, sportspersons, comedians, psychologists, authors, photographers and chefs… We decided to air these programmes on Saturdays and Sundays on Doordarshan in May. It was well-received from the first episode.”

The first episode aired on May 29 and 77 topics have been covered so far.

Asked about the feedback mechanism, Kumari said every district will send a report. “We have a cumulative viewership of 50-60 lakh for ‘Mera Doordarshan, Mera Vidyalaya’, which also includes School TV.”

Sujata Bhadani, Going To School’s Director in Bihar, said, “We are shooting four to 12 episodes of a segment, keeping the videos about 12-minute long, considering the attention span of a student.”

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