ASIFABAD: The little girl in the picture is Saraswati Vidya. She is the daughter of Kudimeta Bhagwantrao and belongs to a tribal sect in Morriguda, Thiryani Mandal in Asifabad district of Telangana. Saraswati studies in the first grade in a private school at Tandoor mandal area of Mancherial district.
This little girl who loves to study and read books is now confined to her home and has to attend online classes, as schools for the primary sections are still closed due to the coronavirus pandemic
However, Morriguda being an agency area has poor mobile network connectivity and the young child does not like to miss her classes. With this, Saraswati's father who is also encouraging the child, takes her on his two-wheeler to a place where the signal comes, which is a distance of five kilometres every day.
The picture of the girl studying on the roadside in the hot sun, with her father watching over is heartening to see. As one can see she is sitting safely to the side of the narrow road with her bag and books spread out under a tree, in the heat. But one cannot help but admire the efforts made by the father and the little girl to pursue and ensure she attends her online classes despite this.
The study conducted by child rights body CRY in May-June among children in four southern states found that about 94 per cent of the respondents did not have access to smartphones or the internet for online education.
The survey covered 5,987 children in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. CRY's community organisers through telephonic interviews collected the information.
With schools closed and mobility restricted due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the ground reality of the potential for online education in India is still debatable. Without substantial resources and with bare minimum affordability, having a smartphone is a luxury that more than two-thirds of these families can only hope for," the study said. The nationwide lockdown induced by Covid-19 in March prompted schools and colleges to move to the virtual world for teaching and learning activities. However, a weak internet penetration has turned e-education into a distant dream for many children in the rural areas.
But another aspect of this is though some students have mobiles there are some places, like hilly areas and as one sees in the above case of Saraswathi, there are poor mobile signals and networks. This makes it difficult for children to study and many opt out of the online classes.