Rayagada: Education has become a distant dream for the students in remote interior districts ever since the government decided for online classes as schools and colleges remain closed to check the spread of Covid pandemic.
While students from impoverished backgrounds in rural areas find it difficult to afford to buy a smartphone to join online classes, poor internet connectivity in remote areas has deprived many of the benefits of online classes.
Many have to walk a few km or even trek to a hilltop to get a proper signal on their devices to attend online classes.
Kandhakhillam village under Sadar block of the tribal-dominated interior district of Rayagada in Odisha is one such place.
Boys and girls of this village studying in schools and colleges have to trek 4 to 5 km from their homes to a hillock where they get feeble mobile connectivity to attend online classes.
“We have no mobile connectivity in our village. We are unable to attend online classes. Out of 15 online classes held so far, I have attended only one out them that too I had to trek for 4 to 5 km to attend it,” said Manoj Kumar Bhatriya, a Plus III Science student of Rayagada Autonomous College, who happens to be native of Kandhakhillam village.
How can we study online without a mobile network? he asked.
“Online classes are only beneficial for those who are living in towns, not for us who live in villages. There is no mobile connectivity here. We have to trek a few km and then climb a hill to get connected. We are facing problems. We are unable to attend classes,” said Manjula Gardia, a Plus III Science third-year student of Rayagada Autonomous College.
“Many like us in villages are facing such a problem. We want that some arrangement should be made for us so that we are not left behind as compared to our fellow classmates in towns,” she demanded.
“Our village has no mobile network. We are unable to attend online classes. Even we do not get SMSes due to poor connectivity. There have been even occasions when we have received SMS after the exam or interview is over,” said Kartik Gardia, another student from the village.
In this corona pandemic, students from forested areas are the worst sufferers pointed out Udayanath Panda, a teacher of the village.
“Government should do something for the students from these areas. There is no mobile connectivity, no internet. Most of them do not have smartphones. How are they going to complete their courses and compete with their brethren from towns?” asked Panda.