Net connectivity eludes students in ‘Digital Kerala’

Net connectivity eludes students in ‘Digital Kerala’

Kerala was declared the first digital state in 2016 by then President Pranab Mukherjee citing 100% mobile connectivity and 75% e-literacy

Kerala was declared the first digital state in 2016 by then President Pranab Mukherjee citing 100% mobile connectivity and 75% e-literacy

Three months after the second consecutive e-academic year commenced, 4.71 lakh schoolchildren in Kerala still do not have digital devices to access e-classes, and over 3,000 wards in the state are facing poor or no Internet connectivity.

Interestingly, Kerala was declared the first digital state in 2016 by then President Pranab Mukherjee citing 100% mobile connectivity and 75% e-literacy.

The hardships faced by students in getting access to e-learning has once again come to focus in Kerala again after Ananthu Babu, a student of a tribal hamlet in Kannur district, suffered a severe injury after falling from a treetop. He was trying to get better Internet connectivity on his mobile phone.

Similar in the plight of many students in remote locations, mainly tribal hamlets. Many students have to climb trees or go to hilltops regularly to get Internet access for e-learning as steps initiated by the government to establish connectivity were progressing at a snail’s pace.

An evaluation by the Kerala Education Department recently found that 4.71 lakhs of the 38 lakh students in Class 1 to 12 did not have digital devices to access e-learning.

Government sources said that 3,000 of the over 20,000 local body wards in Kerala were also facing connectivity issues. Many regions, especially around 400 odd tribal hamlets inside forest areas, had no connectivity at all.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan launched a crowdfunding initiative titled ‘Vidyakiranam’ earlier this month seeking support from individuals and groups for purchasing laptops for students. However, government sources said that the scheme was a non-starter. The state government had formed a committee comprising government officials and representatives of the Internet and mobile service providers to establish proper connectivity across the state. But the issue remains to be solved.

Kerala general education secretary Mohammam Hanish told DH that the tendering process for the laptops was progressing. Once the rates of laptops are finalised, contributions and sponsorships from individuals, organisations and voluntary outfits were expected under the Vidyakiran scheme. A portal for the purpose was also launched. He also said that steps to ensure proper connectivity to around 3,000 wards in the state was progressing.

Sources said that establishing connectivity at around 400 tribal hamlets was quite challenging as many hamlets were situated in deep forests.

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