The devastation brought by COVID-19 has deeply impacted almost all the sectors. The education sector is one of them. Many people have been vocal about the alternative mode of teaching but the main hitch remains a digital divide. Many students, socially and economically backward don’t have access to the internet facilities where they can receive online education.
However, amid this COVID era, Kerala has shown the way. With the help of Kerala Infrastructure and technology for education(KITE) victors channel, which comes under the state department of general education, classes for the new academic year have begun. Different time slots have been allotted to different groups of students. At the very outset, the state was surveyed, the report presented by the state survey indicated about 6%(nearly 2.5 lakh) students do not have access to internet facilities.
Classes began on June 1 and the same day, a young girl from Malappuram district died by suicide. Her family could neither could afford to buy a smartphone nor they had a working TV where she could get access to the online classes. This incident prompted alumni associations, civil society members, various NGOs, politicians, and ordinary citizens of Kerala to come together.
It resulted in the formation of a mass movement where people started extending their support. Local businessmen started providing TV sets, people donated money for the students to buy them smartphones so that they can get access to online teaching. A politician from the opposition party launched a campaign called ‘Tablet Challenge’ by donating 10 tablets, people followed her, a group of fishermen raised money and collectively they donated a tablet. In a very short time, over 200 tablets were arranged.
Through all this philanthropic work and service-centred attitude of the Keralites, the number of students who can’t afford online education was brought to 1.20 lakh. The rest of them were arranged in common service centers. Projectors, laptops, TV sets were taken from schools to common service centers.“Within the last two weeks, we have ensured online classes reach every school student in the state,” says the state’s Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan project director Dr. AP Kuttikrishnan. It is only because of the collective efforts of the people of Kerala this has become possible.