Published: 21st April 2021
JNU students start fund-raising initiative to help MA students continue online classes, get internet connections
The JNUSU started this initiative as a stop-gap solution to avail basic infrastructural help like WiFi, data packs until a more permanent solution is found by the administration
The Jawaharlal Nehru Students' Union (JNUSU) set up a fund-raising initiative on Monday to help students pursuing a master's degree at the School of Arts and Aesthetics who have been attending online classes since the beginning of the academic year due to the surge in COVID-19 cases across the country.
These MA students have been facing immense difficulty in terms of internet connectivity and several other hardships keeping up with their coursework. Apeksha Priyadarshini, JNUSU Convenor from the School, who is also spearheading the initiative tells us, "We have been in touch with the students and found where the issues lie. This year the batches that have come in are attending online classes right from the beginning. We have been writing incessantly to the administration but we haven't got any answer or solution yet. Students are finding it hard to cope, the two-year courses have been compressed into one-and-a-half year courses. They are finding it hard to keep up with several hardships such as inadequate internet connectivity, no WiFi available in remote places and even no smart devices available for a few of the students coming from marginalised backgrounds. So, we started this initiative as a stop-gap solution to avail basic infrastructural help like WiFi, data packs until a more permanent solution is found by the administration. We are collecting funds to help the MA students. Once we are able to facilitate that for everybody in the batch, we will also try to purchase laptops, smartphones for students who are not able to continue their assignments without them."
She added that if this initiative works out the JNUSU will also try to do this for the research scholars. "In MA, JNU hands out the merit-cum-means scholarship for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, as they are not allotted hostels now, they used to get Rs 2000 but now it's a meagre Rs 800 per month. With the COVID restrictions it seems unlikely that they would come to the campus, they live in remote areas, struggling with their parent's health, they can't struggle with connections too, it becomes a huge burden," Apeksha explains.
The funds began coming in from Monday. Their target is basically to ensure all the students in the current batch, 25 students, 8 to 10 of them who are in a bad position, should have internet connections to continue with their studies in this situation. "The biggest fear is that students will drop out as they won't be able to manage," she adds.
Aatika Singh, an MA student from JNU, who is the coordinator for this initiative, adds that they realise most issues can be solved with financial help. "From my end, it was about taking an estimate of how many students, what kind of financial support they require to solve temporary issues. We put it up yesterday and funds have been coming in since then," she says.
Elaborating on the numerous problems students have been facing, Aatika shares, "There have been issues since online classes began. You join a class, you get disconnected because of a poor connection and by the time you get back online, you have missed out on a large part of what was being said. You can't make sense of what the teacher is saying. You are not allowed to record, so you can't really get back and hear it, or if we miss a class we can't get the material again. Every class spans almost four hours. Attendance has been low significantly due to the problems."
We tried reaching out to the administration but haven't received a response yet.