Monday, Sep 28, 2020 | Last Update : 11:38 AM IST

188th Day Of Lockdown

Maharashtra1339232103001535571 Andhra Pradesh6756746050905708 Tamil Nadu5808085251549313 Karnataka5755664622418582 Uttar Pradesh3870853258885594 Delhi2644502284365147 West Bengal2410592110204665 Odisha201059165432820 Telangana1858331544991100 Bihar175898161510881 Assam167374136712625 Kerala160935111327636 Gujarat1303911105923394 Rajasthan1247301042881412 Haryana1205781012731273 Madhya Pradesh117588932382152 Punjab107096840253134 Chhatisgarh9856566860777 Jharkhand7770964515661 Jammu and Kashmir69832495571105 Uttarakhand4533233642555 Goa3107125071386 Puducherry2548919781494 Tripura2412717464262 Himachal Pradesh136799526152 Chandigarh112128677145 Manipur9791760263 Arunachal Pradesh8649623014 Nagaland5768469311 Meghalaya5158334343 Sikkim2707199431 Mizoram178612880
  Technology   In Other news  13 Jun 2020  Will someone help them out? Without smartphones, these poor students are missing online classes

Will someone help them out? Without smartphones, these poor students are missing online classes

THE ASIAN AGE | T SUDHEESH
Published : Jun 13, 2020, 6:57 pm IST
Updated : Jun 13, 2020, 6:57 pm IST

No one in the families of these seven students, and others like them, owns or can afford a smartphone.

Poor people in Chennai living on the banks of a canal in makeshift homes. (Photo | Wikimedia Commons -  Milei Vencel)
 Poor people in Chennai living on the banks of a canal in makeshift homes. (Photo | Wikimedia Commons - Milei Vencel)

Chennai: As online classes kindled a public debate on inequality and many colleges and schools in the state launched app-supported online education for use on mobile phones hoping it would make online education more inclusive, many under privileged students continue to suffer as they don’t have the means to buy a smartphone.

This newspaper spoke to at least seven students from weak economic backgrounds in the city who have missed online classes for a month now as no one in their family owns a smartphone.

 

Gayathri, a third semester BA English literature student at Chellammal Women’s College in Guindy here, says she kept asking her parents for a smartphone as she was lagging behind her classmates. Her father Siva, a tailor near his house at Thiruvalluvar Puram, West Tambaram, became unemployed when the shutdown was imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Siva says he can’t afford to spend Rs 10,000 in this situation. “I have spoken about it to her teachers as well. But they insisted on getting a smartphone. I am helpless,” he says.    

Gayathri has now made peace with her situation. “I prepare notes of the daily online classes by talking to friends over phone and getting the information from them,” she says.

 

Lalitha, a plus one student at Mount Zion Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Selaiyur, DC caught up with, had the same story to tell. Her teachers continue to run online classes, but she helplessly sits at home at Lekshmipuram near Tambaram. 

Moshe, her father, is a sanitary worker at the same school. He has not been paid for the past three months as the school has been shut. She says every day classes are held online for an hour. “I have already communicated my helplessness to the teachers,” she says.

Moshe says the teachers are unwilling to hear out his helplessness and nobody is helping out. He asks the government to build up the required infrastructure before starting online classes.

 

Lalitha’s siblings Prem Kumar and Jhansi Rani, are final year graduation students. “They’re not missing out only because no online class have started for them,” Moshe says.

It has been a week since online classes began but Manishya, a plus-two student at Corporation Girls Higher Secondary School, Choolai here, has not attended any of the classes. Her father Manikandan, a daily wage worker, expressed deep concern over the future of his daughter. He has been striving hard to feed his wife and four daughters for the last three months.

 “Buying a new smartphone is impossible in this situation,” he says.  

Right activists and organisations have already pointed out that online class are creating a divide between students. While the 86th amendment to the Constitution of India in 2002 provides Right to Education as a fundamental right to children aged between 6-14 years, economic disparities prevent them from enjoying the fundamental right.

 

Jayaram Venkatesan, Convener, Arappor Iyakkam, an NGO that works for equality, pointed out that the online classes would only help further widen the gap already existing in the quality education. “If the government continues with the policy of online classes, then students from rural areas should be given a laptop or tablet,” he said.

Tags: online classes, tamil nadu schools, smartphones, digital access, digital divide
Location: India, Tamil Nadu, Chennai (Madras)