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Education a luxury for poor children in digitally divided Kashmir

Meanwhile, private schools are getting creative and teaching through conference calls
Last Updated : 16 May 2021, 10:15 IST
Last Updated : 16 May 2021, 10:15 IST
Last Updated : 16 May 2021, 10:15 IST
Last Updated : 16 May 2021, 10:15 IST

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With schools in Kashmir closed for the last 21 months, a huge number of students remain deprived of online education due to the digital divide and the government’s failure to provide educational contents through alternate modes like television and radio.

After the Centre’s decision to revoke J&K’s special status on August 5, 2019, and subsequent security clampdown, schools remained closed for months in the Valley. And as soon as the schools reopened in March last year, the Covid-19 pandemic broke out.

While private schools are getting creative and teaching through conference calls, students in government schools are still struggling to get access to necessary devices.

Unlike urban areas where the majority of the students and their parents have smartphones through which online education can be easily imparted, the vast population of students in the rural areas of Kashmir remain deprived of this facility as they lack these gadgets due to their poor economic condition.

“Students with poor background are finding it hard to obtain benefits of online education because they don’t have smartphones on which WhatsApp, Zoom App, Facebook and YouTube Channel can be operated,” a senior officer of the school education department admitted.

He said that last year community classes were started in rural areas for the convenience of such students but this year the same could not take place due to the devastating second wave of the pandemic.

“In such a situation providing educational contents through alternate modes like television and radio is the only option to make up for the losses being suffered by the students in their studies,” the official said and added they have taken up the matter with the higher authorities.

A school teacher, who wished not to be named, said that poor students mostly studying in government schools always had to bear the brunt of abnormal situations in Kashmir during the last three decades.

“The pandemic was dubbed a great equalizer. But like in the past, those without the privileges are suffering. Most students of government schools can’t afford smartphones and high-speed internet. The education playing field in Kashmir, never really level, is now potholed and bumpy,” she added.

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Published 16 May 2021, 10:15 IST

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