With digital divide a reality in India, especially in rural areas, attending online classes for students in Mizoram has become a Herculean task. They are going to great lengths to attend online sessions. In many rural areas of the state, many students have to share a smartphone which is a luxury in many households to attend classes or sit for exams.
In one instance, some students of Mizoram University's constituent and affiliated colleges had to trek around 3 km uphill to write their exams for lack of Internet connectivity in their villages since colleges are closed due to the COVID-induced lockdown, as reported by The Telegraph. Now, pictures of some students attending classes by the roadside locality in Serchhip district has started doing the rounds on the internet.
Buying A Smartphone No Guarantee Of Access To Internet
In some instances, however, buying a smartphone also does not guarantee access to the internet. The Hindu reported about a group of students from the university who used to trek about 5-6 km in different directions in small groups "catch the tower" for logging on to their online sessions. Poor internet connectivity is not the only issue.
Even access to electricity in these areas is a major issue. In the absence of power, phones having no charge are redundant. Additionally, activities like road widening and construction activities have led to the damage of optical fibre cables in many places, snapping connectivity.
Hardships Faced By Students In Rural Areas
The university's Vice-Chancellor, KRS Sambasiva Rao took note of the hardships faced by students in remote and rural areas in accessing the internet.
He also acknowledged the role played by civil society organisations such as the Young Mizo Association in helping put up makeshift exam centers for the students in areas with good internet connectivity.