Tanisha, 15, a student of class 8, and her younger brother, Gagan, 13, a student of class 6, urge their father to climb up a tree with a smartphone, which allows them to access the internet properly, in Dapana, a remote village in Morni block.
The daily exercise is done to help the kids access their homework, which is sent on WhatsApp as part of their online classes. When signals are accessed, it helps not only Tanisha and Gagan, but at least half a dozen more students from their village.
“This is our daily exercise. In case I am not available, someone else climbs the tree so that we can get signal. Decreased connectivity is a huge problem in our entire region. Even the ordinary or simple mobile phones do not work here. We have to climb on roofs, trees or sometimes even have to go upto one mile only to get signal. The smartphone these children use for homework belongs Manjeet Singh, a boy from the village. Most of the students from our village depend on his mobile phone for their online classes,” said Tanisha’s father, Dheeraj Rana, a small-time agriculturist, who occasionally does daily wage work.
Dapana village is situated around 3 km down from the Panchkula-Madna-Morni link road, almost 28 km away from Panchkula city.
The village is home to 120 people and almost two dozen students from this remote village are enrolled in Government Senior Secondary School, Bhuri, situated on the hill opposite the village.
“Usually, if the mobile phone receives signals, it takes around two hours for us to do the homework. On some days, we end up missing our online classes and have to cover the syllabus on the next day, when we recieve signal,” says Tanisha.
A visit to the village suggests that it receives signals from only one telecommunication company, that too only at a certain height.
“There are so many areas, locations in Morni region, which have no mobile connectivity. The Morni hills are spread in around 60,000 acres, and there are hardly a dozen mobile towers in the entire region. Unlike Himachal Pradesh, we lack certain services, including connectivity,” said Manjeet Singh.
“Indeed, mobile connectivity is a big problem in Morni region. There are about 213 students enrolled in classes 6 to 12, who are being given online education. This is a typically rural area and mobile phones do not get signal here that often. We usually receive messages from students, after long gaps, stating that they did not receive their homework. However, we are cooperating with the students and they are responding brilliantly. We are satisfied with their performance,” said Sushila Devi, Principal of Government Senior Secondary School, Bhuri.
“We had an online parents-teachers meeting on Saturday, but we missed it due to poor connectivity in the area. In the absence of signal, we are almost always late in doing our homework. It makes us lag behind in studies and is difficult to cope with,” said Anu Devi, a student of class 8.
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