The government is studying a proposal for screening educational content in cinema halls in small towns across the country, officials in the human resource development (HRD) ministry told HT.

The move was initiated by NASSCOM, an umbrella body of the IT industry in India.

If approved, the ministry will relay courses through its DTH channel, Swayam Prabha, to cinema halls in tier-II towns and urban habitations with a population of less than one lakh.

“The unutilised potential of several thousand cinema theatres spread across the country can be tapped through this simple measure. Educational content can be screened between 7 am and 11 am or school timings of the concerned area,” a senior HRD official said. The screening can also done on Sundays and other school holidays, they added.

“There are a number of single-screen cinema halls and they remain unutilised. By relaying educational content through these halls we can reach out to a number of students at a time especially in smaller towns,” the official said.

Officials said mass viewing of educational content on giant screens by high school and higher secondary school students, especially in classes 9 and 12, can have a big impact. However, issues related to the cost of the project and other modalities are yet to be worked out.

The ministry had launched 32 educational channels for providing high quality instruction for higher education, including three that will help students prepare for IIT entrance examination.

The content of these channels has been prepared by IIT professors and other experts.

The ministry cleared the Swayam Prabha scheme in August last year. After watching the content, students can clear their doubts through a toll-free helpline number.

“Although more than three crore youth are pursuing higher education, the standard of education is not uniform, raising the issue of quality access to knowledge. Youth in the backward pockets of India need a fair deal in accessing high-quality knowledge to confidently enter the job market,” another official said.