The coronavirus pandemic is bringing with it new challenges and risks for humanity. But what has been brought to light in this recent news article is not something completely unique to the pandemic situation. A meritorious 14-year-old adolescent studying in class 10 died by suicide allegedly because she didn’t have access to online classes.
Her father, a daily wage, had no work for about 2 months and couldn’t repair the TV set for her to access online sessions. Reportedly, she was upset with this situation of no access and also worried about whether she would be able to continue her education due to financial difficulties in the family.
This brings us to rethink the widespread inequality, marginalization, and lack of access to opportunities in the country. A well-known fact that suicide is the second leading cause of death in young people aged 15-29 years (WHO, 2019). The girl belonged to a marginalized community, like most students who live in poverty.
The incident brings to the forefront how poverty permeates all aspects of one’s life, and one significant way it impacts individuals is through educational disadvantage. It is well known that children who live in poverty are less likely to do well in school (Hirsch, 2007).
What also needs to be considered is the double disadvantage that girls might have to face especially post this pandemic, when families with limited resources might not send them to school again. This will undoubtedly widen the already existing gender gap in education. We must also consider our readiness for virtual classrooms.
It has been reported that in Kerala alone, there are lakhs of students who do not have access to the necessary equipment for receiving online sessions. The state must look into and arrange for the accessibility for all students, which also makes it evident as to how serious the education system is for the wellbeing of its students.