“My sister called me up the other day and requested me to continue my studies no matter what circumstances come. Since the lockdown, it has become really difficult; sudden shift to a digital platform, having one phone at home, not having data packs and a bunch of unanswered questions and uncertainties.”- Sanjana
Sanjana is very passionate about her studies and wants to become an engineer; for the same, she opted for Maths in class 11. She is 17 years old and lives in Nevada Village of Indira Nagar Lucknow. She is in class 12th this year, and like any other student, she is now sailing in a turmoil of confusion about what is next. It began when her other classmates switched to digital platforms for studies while she struggled for a smartphone.
“If it was a matter of one day, anyone could have given the phone. Though sometime neighbors agree to lend me their phone for an hour a day for one day, they are reluctant to offer me their phones regularly for the classes.”
With the coronavirus crisis looming at large and the lockdown imposed on our country, schools have moved to the online mode of education. As a result, students with lesser digital access are further disadvantaged, and those without any digital access are at risk of dropping out altogether.
The 75th Report of the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) for 2017-18 highlights some of the major issues that this new model would have to address. All India percentage of households having internet facilities stands at 23.8% with rural availability at 14.9% and urban at 42%. The problem does not end there, as having a facility does not mean it would be used. The percentage of people who were able to use the internet (all-India) stood at 20.1% with rural at 13% and urban at 37.1%. Additionally, only 10.8% of people in India had used the internet in the last 30 days.
The transformation to online classes has been fruitful for many, but for the lesser privileged, it only makes matters worse. Her father is a daily wage worker and her brother lost the job amid the pandemic; her situations are not strong enough for the availing of a smartphone. Her solid ambitions of becoming an engineer seem to have touched rock bottom.
Her teachers in the school have, since the first day, instilled in the students to take up extra efforts for mathematics; also, she feels that though some teachers try to impart knowledge to their best capacity through online platforms, students still face difficulties which are very external but also realistic.
“In rare cases, when my father has balance and tariff on his phone, I take my father’s phone and search for YouTube videos on Maths, but not being able to ask questions is yet another hindrance. Also, I get the access only during nights, when my brother or father are not using it ”
Repercussions of digitization of classes often make students feel subservient compared to their batchmates who are up to date with their classes, and it is more traumatizing for girls from rural settings as it is more like a fight for them to be able to continue their studies. The stagnancy in her life makes her depressed as others who were at par with her in studies have progressed considerably as they are being able to attend classes regularly unlike her. Yet another distress is that due to the financial crisis, she might not be able to pay the fees of the coaching for maths which she earlier planned.
Sanjana, is a youth fellow at Yeh Ek Soch Foundation and is leading a program based on Menstrual Hygiene Management. We have been able to support the families with immediate relief and we are seeking support in bridging the gaps between her dream and her education. There are many other girls like Sanjana, who are associated with YES, living in the rural setup and are in need of support to pursue their dreams.
To support in their education, tuition fee or technology, you can check YES website.