Alappuzha (Kerala) [India], May 6 (ANI): As lockdown continues in India many schools in Kerala have started online teaching for students, but children belonging to underprivileged sections of the society are facing disruption in their studies as they do not have access to laptops and internet.
Surrounded by the sea and backwaters, Alappuzha has many children from the families of fishermen and daily wage workers.
While teachers here try to provide an uninterrupted learning experience to their students, some are being deprived of education as their families cannot provide them a smartphone or a computer needed to attend online classes. In addition, some parents in Alappuzha complain of poor internet connectivity.
Sharing her ordeal with ANI, Class 11 student, Sreelakshmi said that she wants to continue her classes, but, she is unable to do so as she does not have a smartphone or a laptop.
"The teacher called me for my WhatsApp number to add me to an online class group. But I do not have access to WhatsApp or the internet. I felt bad telling her my family cannot afford a smartphone. This is the reality....our situation is like that. After the coronavirus outbreak, several people in our locality have lost their jobs, and they even cannot go fishing. Thus, many children like me cannot attend online classes due to the financial condition of our families," she said.
Sreelakshmi resides in Nehru Trophy ward, which is named after country's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Though tourists and many ministers flock to the annual boat race which takes place here in the backwaters, the living conditions of the people here have not improved much.
"More than 60 families live on this island and the internet connectivity is very poor. Even to recharge our mobile, we have to visit the town. Children here do not have access to the internet. Children, including 3 year olds, have to travel to Anganwadi in a boat to attend classes as there is no bridge. And every time we have to depend on country boats to ferry us to town," said Ajithamma, who runs a local shop.
Vinod, a parent and daily wage worker, said that he got a call from the school teacher enquiring about the facilities he has at home.
"A teacher called me to ask whether we have a laptop or smartphone. I am a daily wage worker. Though we want to give the best education to our children we cannot afford a smartphone or a laptop. If the government helps us we may be able to get one so that our children will not miss the online classes," he said.
Children here like Devanarayanan, Abinav, Vinu and Gopukumar have a list of complaints that they want the administration to pay heed to.
"There is no mobile tower here and we have been demanding it for many years. We do not have smartphones or laptops to study online...we go to school on boats and if it is raining heavily we miss our classes. We do not even have proper access to electricity, " they said. (ANI)