In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kerala government has enabled access to education to 2.42 lakh children, who previously had no means to attend online classes, reported The Indian Express.
To ensure that students don't miss out on education due to the lockdown, the Kerala education department had started virtual classes for students on June 1.
For those without access to internet, laptop or computer, the online sessions named 'First Bell' are streamed through the government-run education channel Kite Victers. The channel is available for free on cable networks, over the internet and direct-to-home (DTH).
However, according to a study conducted by the General Education Department, 2.42 lakh students in government and aided schools in the state did not have access to television with cable connection or computer/mobile phone with Internet. By June 1, this number had come down to nearly 1.15 lakh.
To facilitate classes for these students who have no access to the internet or television, Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan had announced that Neighbourhood Study Centres will be set up. These centres, set up in local bodies where children have no access to modern communication tools, will have a television, through which the Victers channel can be aired.
Since May 15, the state government has sought the support of politicians and civil society to provide television sets to anganwadis, libraries, schools and study centres where the students can watch their lessons aired on Victers.
Till date, a total of 20,000 television sets have been provided, of which, around 2,000 were given by the government and its departments. The remaining were either donated by civil society organisations, private individuals and politicians or purchased from money raised by them.
In some villages, several WhatsApp groups and alumni associations also raised money to buy digital devices. As part of the state Industries Department's "TV challenge'', several local businessmen also provided TV sets.
"A majority of the television sets were purchased using the money donated by teachers organisations, CSR initiatives of industries and private individuals. About Rs 1.3 crore was collected like this," the state's Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan project director Dr A P Kuttikrishnan told the media.
The virtual classes are available on YouTube or through, Kite Victers. Classes are held on weekdays for an estimated 45 lakh students studying in government and government-aided schools. While primary class students watch online lessons for an hour every day, middle school students spend one-and-a-half hours and senior students for nearly two hours.
In tribal and shadow areas, the teachers will reach out to the students at least once a week so that they can watch the classes on the teacher's device.Also Read: Rahul Gandhi Gives 175 Smart TVs To Wayanad Tribal Students For Online Classes