To ensure that students who do not have the means of owning electronic gadgets through which they can access online classes, school have taken to crowdsourcing to procure gadgets to be distributed among those in need.
Over the last four days, 35 smartphones, four tablets and two laptops were pledged to the D S High School in Mumbai’s Sion, some of which were collected over the weekend. However, to effectively provide online education to such students who hail from largely Marathi schools in Dharavi, Chunabhatti and Pratiksha Nagar localities, the school needs at least 300 devices.
“We made many calls to the people we knew. So far, we have handed over 15 devices to our students, which were donated to us,” said Rajendra Pradhan, president of Shiv Shikshan Sanstha that runs the school.
With still no clarity on when schools will reopen physically, a need is being felt among educators and schools to bring children into the fold of online learning by equipping them with resources like tablets, phones and laptops.
A recent survey by Maharashtra State Council of Educational Research and Training had found that 66.4 per cent families in the state do not have access to smartphones. Accessibility to personal desktop and laptop is also negligible, only 0.8 per cent.
Early this month, Pune Zilla Parishad had written to all education officers asking them to make an appeal for donation of used android phones, smart TVs, tablets, laptops and computers.
Parents associated to the zilla parishad school in Karad’s Vadgaon Haveli in Satara district set an example when they collectively purchased at least 20 tablets to donate to the school.
“We have made education available for students on a lot of platforms such as YouTube, online classes and a blog for online tests. But of 260 students in classes I to VII, not all had the werewithal to benefit. So, we made an appeal to the parents and they responded positively,” said teacher Mahesh Lokhande. The tablets were then distributed to the needy students.
But not all schools have been able successful in procuring gadgets.
As many as 34 students across classes I to IV study in Zilla Parishad Primary School at Somthana Tanda in Nanded district’s Bhokar taluka.
This school caters to Tanda community, a nomadic tribe. In June, the school’s teacher Seema Moghe began asking prospective donors for help in procuring tablets or phones. However, no volunteer came forward, she said.
Nagnath Vibhute, a primary teacher in a zilla parishad school at Jambhuldara in Pune’s Khed taluka started a blog early this month titled ‘Donate your mobile’. Vibhute, who teaches Class I, secured donation of four tablets through acquaintances and a school alumni. “Internet range, unavailability of cellphones at home during the time of online class and not having the money to buy data packs are hurdles in the way of administering online education,” he said.
For Class 1, he has began loading tablets with offline content. “One student uses a tablet for half a day, sanitises it and hands it over to another student before the second half of the day. For parents who have android phones, I load the content on their devices. They can show it to children at their own disposal… This seems to work for us, but we need more tablets and android mobiles,” said Vibhute.
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