In an incident highlighting the existing digital divide, a group of university students from Mizoram's Siaha and Lunglei districts trekked for almost three kilometers to appear for their online semester examination on Wednesday, June 2.
The Indian Express reported that in the absence of internet connectivity, the students had to trek through the dense forest to reach a hilltop to sit for their examination as it was the only spot where they could access the internet.
A social organisation and a student body have set up 'exam centres' — makeshift huts made of bamboo, tarpaulin, and banana leaves — on the summit of the hill which accommodates the students for over three hours to write their papers and then return home.
The publication reported that while the urban areas are equipped with mobile towers, ensuring interrupted internet services, people in the rural areas in the state have been struggling to remain connected digitally, especially the ones residing in far-flung areas, owing to geographical aspects of the terrain.
The government has allowed students, who are writing online examinations, to travel to cities and towns in order to get better internet connectivity despite lockdown, but such decisions entail safety concerns for the students.
Social organisation Young Mizo Association (YMA) and Siaha-based Mara Students Organisation (MSO) came up with the idea of setting up temporary huts on hilltops so that students can take their examinations.
Mizoram University has started conducting semester examinations from June 1 for about 24,000 undergraduate students in various departments or courses online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.