Chennai School Distributes Free Tablets To Underprivileged Students To Bridge Digital Divide

The Olcott Memorial Higher Secondary School in Chennai conducts classes for underprivileged children free of cost. It also provides them with all supplies including the school uniforms for free.

India   |   23 Sep 2020 11:14 AM GMT
Writer : Sneha Das | Editor : Reethu Ravi | Creatives : Abhishek M
Chennai School Distributes Free Tablets To Underprivileged Students To Bridge Digital Divide

Image Credits: NDTV

In a bid to bridge the digital divide amid schools being shut due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a school in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, has distributed tablets to 120 students studying in Class 9-12 for free.

The Olcott Memorial Higher Secondary School in Chennai conducts classes for underprivileged children free of cost. It also provides them with all supplies including the school uniforms for free.

Thaslin Parvin and Victoria, students of Class 12, who live in a small and cramped up area of Besant Nagar missed their online classes for two months because they did not have smartphones or computers. But now they have their own tablets to attend the virtual classes without any hassle.

Parvin's father earns his livelihood by ironing clothes while Victoria's mother works as a domestic help.

NDTV quoted Victoria as saying, "I only have my father's phone. It has no network. It has many issues. This is so useful. Earlier I used my brother's phone but couldn't use it after he resumed his job."

Both the girls aspire to become lawyers in the future.

Another student K Manikandan aspires to become an Indian Administrative Officer and hopes that the tablet will help him to achieve his dreams. He has been raised by a single mother who works as domestic help.

He stated that he had been sitting at home idle for five months as he didn't have a phone at home and added that the tablet will now keep him busy with the online classes.

The Theosophical Society that runs the private school has raised Rs 16 lakh for this noble cause. While a US-registered not for profit organization called Asha for Education said they have donated around 100 tablets, Rotary Club of Chennai Mitra helped the teachers by distributing laptops.

After receiving the positive response, the school is now planning to distribute tablets to all students studying in Class 8 and 9.

"These are all underprivileged children. They should not be denied the right to education. I am happy to say there are quite a lot of philanthropists and donors who care for the nation," said Sashikala Sriram, a honorary academic director.

Furthermore, two techie friends, Rahul Shankar and Sandeep Rajarajan have helped them to get the free software - G Suite - from Google and an affordable rate from the smartphone manufacturer.

The school spent a total of Rs 13,000 for the device, sim and internet charges for a year. However, students are required to return the tablet at the end of the academic year so that the next batch can use them.

A customized tablet configuration has also been provided by the techies which include downloading all the necessary apps, blocking irrelevant downloads and browsing in a centralized manner.

"We don't want students to miss out or lose hope of finishing school just because they could not afford a device. We will feel a sense of achievement if this aids student's clear exams," said Shankar, an analyst with a software consulting company.

"We want to see how successfully such a cost effective model can be implemented where students can't afford to go digital," he added.

The duo is alo planning to reach out to other schools to provide assistance to underprivileged children.

Also Read: Researchers Detail How Cigarette Butts Can Be Recycled Into Bricks

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Sneha Das

Sneha Das

( Remote Intern)

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Reethu Ravi

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Reethu, a story teller, a person often found between the pages of a book or contemplating the nuances of life.

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