More than a year into the coronavirus-induced crisis that caused a major shift in the education system with classes moving to digital platforms, instances of the digital divide are still rampant across rural pockets of the country.
A number of students in Kerala's Idukki district are forced to travel six kilometers every day due to poor internet connectivity. During the day, the Eravikulam National Park can be seen crowded with students to attend online classes—braving the weather and the pandemic.
"We reach here by an auto-rickshaw in the morning. In the evening, we walk home," one of the students said, reported NDTV.
"There is no internet connectivity in Rajamala and at some spots where it is available, the speed is very slow. It is very difficult for us to commute 6-km daily," he added.
It is significant to consider that amid the catastrophic second wave of the pandemic, the state imposed a stricter lockdown to keep the population from getting infected and to prevent transmission. However, inaccessibility to high-speed internet and the absence of digital gadgets have been roadblocks to online education for children from marginalised groups.
Over 7 Lakh Students Have No Access To Online Learning
The Opposition Congress-led UDF (United Democratic Front) on Thursday, June 3, moved an adjournment motion (motion to bring the attention of the House to a matter of greater public importance) in the Assembly highlighting that at least seven lakh school students lacked access to online education in the state.
VD Satheesan, leader of the Opposition, stated that most of these students belonged to the traditionally disadvantaged communities where the families failed to afford laptops, tablets, or mobile phones due to limited resources amid the COVID crisis. The minister alleged that the ruling government's policies existed only on papers.
General Education Minister V Sivankutty, however, said that the government was addressing the needs and has been broadcasting classes through the KITE-Victers channel, reported The Hindu.