Published: 04th September 2021
Welcome to Reason: Need students climb hill-tops for online lessons?
Online classes are both the demand and the need of the hour. But how huge is the gap between the haves and have-nots in terms of access to online education?
“If the Mountain Won't Come to Muhammad, Muhammad Must Go to the Mountain.”
This expression is based on an account that Prophet Muhammad once sought proof of his teachings by ordering a mountain to come to him. When it did not move, he graciously maintained that God had been merciful, for if the mountain had indeed moved they all would have been crushed by it – as in the cases of modern massive landslides.
A similar situation is faced by students involved in online learning. They have no choice, in some cases, but to climb atop local hills despite the danger involved in climbing the hills to catch internet signals. It is a dangerous venture. Apart from being getting out of breath, one can have snake-bites and even rolling stones, as reflected in a news item widely carried in the media and excerpted below.
A pupil, who was attempting entry into online learning material and chasing an Internet sign, died after falling from a hillock in Odisha’s Rayagada district on August 17, 2021.
The deceased pupil, identified as Jagarang, was studying in Class 7 in Bhubaneswar. As faculties had been shut on account of COVID-19 restrictions, he was stranded in his village in Rayagada district.
The present cellular towers in the district have been grossly insufficient to offer unhindered internet connectivity. It is stated that only 40% of students in the State have been in a position to enter online lessons.
Internet connectivity has been a serious handicap for students studying from home, specially the poorer sections who also can not afford the appropriate equipment at their end.
Discerning media readers would have noticed that states are trying to entice industrialists with the promise of erecting communication towers among other baits. If they deliver on this, students could be collateral beneficiaries. But, why feed them on crumbs? It is time that on-line connectivity is made integral part of National Educational Policy which is being launched.
The subject is open to many views. What are yours?