No Internet, No Electricity: Online Education A Struggle For Rural Students
The lockdown has left a lot of us who live in towns and villages of India staring at the slow-moving fan, the buffering internet and wondering, how will we survive the lockdown? I am spending the lockdown in a small town of Bihar where 24×7 electricity and internet facility are unheard of. I am sure, many people can relate to the situation that I am in. As remote education is becoming the new norm, how will students living in towns and villages cope up?
While the whole country is shifting to the learn-from-home, we are still waiting for a Google page to open up in our phones. Half of my day burns out in running with my laptop from one room to the other to find proper network and fresh air to breathe. Eventually, I have to give one of them up! Thanks to the new state government, the days when we had only one or two hours of electricity in a day are long behind us. But even today, at any minute we can experience a power cut with no certainty about when it will be back. Sometimes, after a storm, we have to light candles and lamps to cook or do other chores at night. How then are we supposed to catch up on the emails and scheduled lectures?
Usually, people have to sit outside of their homes for proper connectivity and this is obviously against the lockdown rules. But what can be done?
Joen Melody, an IAS aspirant and BA English graduate from Chennai who is spending her lockdown in a town close to mine says, “I cannot take any of my online lectures due to the poor network. I have to rely on the PDFs that are being sent by the teachers.” Tauseef, a DU student from Mau, UP is facing network issues at his hometown as well, “Usually, people have to sit outside of their homes for proper connectivity and this is obviously against the lockdown rules. But what can be done?” He also reveals that though the government is providing broadband service in villages, most of the time it doesn’t work or the service providers are reluctant in investing their time, money and energy in small towns.
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Most of the houses don’t install WiFi and broadband connections because high-speed internet is not a daily need while others can’t afford it. In fact, internet is mainly seen as a medium of entertainment for which the cheap mobile data is more than enough.
Besides, sitting at home all day on the laptop is not counted as either studies or work in the part of the country from where I come. “People at my place still do not depend on the internet or online classes to study because we don’t have any proper internet connection. Things like online classes have never been talked about or introduced in the institutes here,” says Adeem, a NEET aspirant living in Pasighat, Arunachal Pradesh.
I cannot take any of my online lectures due to the poor network. I have to rely on the PDFs that are being sent by the teachers.
That’s why when I sit to work, I am reprimanded for wasting my time and reminded that to earn a penny I need to go out and work. When I asked whether she has come across any such stereotypes in her area, Joen Melody says, “More than stereotype, this is the way of life here. We grew up without the need to Google things up. All of a sudden, you cannot ask a student living in a rural area to sit and listen to an online lecture. It doesn’t come naturally to them because they are used to classroom education. Also, it is not possible technically since we have never had proper internet connectivity.”
Picture Credit: Pxhere