Tuesday, Aug 04, 2020 | Last Update : 12:06 AM IST

132nd Day Of Lockdown

Maharashtra44122827680915576 Tamil Nadu2632221964834132 Andhra Pradesh166586828861474 Delhi1384821233174004 Karnataka134819577252496 Uttar Pradesh97362533571730 West Bengal75516527301678 Telangana6766048609551 Gujarat63684466892482 Bihar5956736637322 Rajasthan4495531216706 Assam4290532385105 Haryana3629729690433 Odisha3491321955236 Madhya Pradesh3353523550886 Kerala259121446383 Jammu and Kashmir2141613127396 Punjab1785311466423 Jharkhand121884513115 Chhatisgarh9608699158 Uttarakhand7593443786 Goa6530466853 Tripura5248346323 Puducherry3806230952 Manipur283117377 Himachal Pradesh2654150813 Arunachal Pradesh19359693 Nagaland19356484 Chandigarh111769819 Meghalaya8742645 Sikkim6582891 Mizoram4702580
  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)