GYAN VANI - a cry in wilderness
More than two years after its launch in Visakhapatnam, Gyan Vani, the educational radio station, is struggling to gain a foothold among its target audience.
Indifference of teachers to render their services, lack of motivation and involvement of local educational institutions are coming in the way of the channel achieving its goal of operating as a `media cooperative'.
Gyan Vani is an educational FM Radio network operating through different FM stations in the country. These radio stations are funded by the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU). It was thought that after the first few years, the stations would attain self-sufficiency in programme production with the involvement of educational organisations located within their listening range.
The local facility was formally launched at the All India Radio station near Siripuram Junction on Ugadi Day in 2002 and by the end of the same year, it was shifted to the School of Distance Education (SDE) of Andhra University. A digital studio, with equipment imported from the UK, was set up at a cost of Rs.18 lakhs. Two separate telephone lines have been provided for phone-in programmes.
The original capacity of the 10 KW transmitter has been halved due to some technical problems and its reach has come down to a radius of about 70 km. from 100 km.
Some of the Gyan Vani stations like the ones in Coimbatore, Bangalore and in the North are said to have got over their initial hiccups and are slowly gaining popularity among students in the respective regions. They have signature tunes (the opening music) of their own. However, the Gyan Vani station in Visakhapatnam, the only one of its kind in AP, seems to have failed to feel the pulse of the local student community. The undue delay in the appointment of a station manager, the indifferent attitude of the university teachers in rendering their services to the educational broadcast and the lack of outdoor recording facilities are some of the factors coming in the way of popularising the channel.
There is no station manager for Gyan Vani for more than six months now and a search is still on to find a suitable candidate. Teachers who can go on and on in delivering lectures to students in classrooms are not comfortable in giving radio talks. There are some who are averse to going to the studio to record their voice as no compensation is paid by Gyan Vani either towards transport or for the services rendered.
Though eminent academicians and educationists, coming from different parts of the country, invited to the station for recording their talks are paid, not many would take the trouble as they prefer to rush back to their respective States soon after attending the workshops, seminars and conferences. It is here that outdoor recording facilities come in handy. This facility was not available till recently.
The SDE recently introduced a two-year Diploma in Music. The audio lessons are being broadcast through Gyan Vani from 9 a.m. to 9.30 a.m. daily. Seventy-six candidates have enrolled for the first batch of whom 60 are girls. "Programmes of the IGNOU, the B.R. Ambedkar Open University and the District Primary Education Programme (DPEP) are aired for three hours every evening and the same are repeated the next morning. We have planned a one hour slot for SDE for this year," says D. Harinarayana, member-secretary of the steering committee and Director of the SDE.
"The concept of learning without the need of a teacher is yet to gain acceptance in India. The audio programmes can only supplement our (SDE) study material and are not a substitute. Our music programmes on Gyan Vani are getting very good response from students," says Prof. Harinarayana.
When his attention was drawn to the lack of outdoor recording facilities, he said that equipment had already been procured at a cost of Rs.1.2 lakhs and would be put to use soon.
The channel should involve all the local schools and colleges and make the teachers and students participate in the programmes. Now that the outdoor recording equipment has been procured it will be easier to interact with the target groups.
B. MADHU GOPAL
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