Online classes in ‘digital India’ raise more questions than answers

Digital divide, Online classes
Experts feel that teachers should come up with more innovative ways by using technology to beat the monotony. | Image - Prathap Ravishankar

Sitting in a dingy corner of her one-room house, 15-year-old Keerthana, a student of a government school in Kodungaiyur in north Chennai, struggles to study for an hour and a half every evening. She has zeroed in on the corner spot for better signal reception.

“I am using a basic model phone for the conference call through which our teacher conducts lessons. There is a lot of disturbance in the line but I listen in keenly to make notes to study later,” she says.

Keerthana says it is tough to concentrate and she has been calling her friends separately after the class to exchange notes and clarify doubts. “Half of them are unable to get through to the calls every day. So, we barely learn anything,” she says.

For first generation students like Keerthana who hail from lower-income groups, studying amid COVID-19 pandemic has been an arduous and discouraging experience. While some Corporation schools have begun online classes, a number of factors have made it difficult for them to participate in the process such as lack of proper gadgets, shortage of money for network and internet data.

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