Mobile banks to help students get devices for online classes

To help address the digital divide in online education, the Department of Primary and Secondary Education has decided to establish mobile banks with the assistance of voluntary organisations.

Smartphones and other devices collected at these banks will be distributed to students.

At a press conference on Friday, S. Suresh Kumar, Primary and Secondary Education Minister, said that Block Education Officers have roped in voluntary organisations, such as the Rotary International, the Lions Club, and have established mobile banks in their jurisdiction.

“These banks will help provide gadgets to students who do not have access to gadgets,” he said.

A recent survey by the Department of Primary and Secondary Education found that around 33% out of 93.01 lakh students in the State did not have access to mobile phones, tablets, computers or any other devices that they require to attend online classes.

The Minister added that they plan to rope in NGOs and voluntary organisations to ensure that students from rural areas get access to these gadgets. The modalities of this will be discussed during a meeting that will be held next week.

Internet connectivity or the lack of it is another problem that the government has promised to address. “I have spoken to officials and directed them to convene a meeting with service providers of different companies to see how they can reach students in remote areas,” he said. The department has also decided to ensure that all the gram panchayat libraries have a television set so that students can attend classes that will be telecast on DD Chandana.

As 40% of the students and their families have reported that they do not have access to the Internet to attend their online classes. The most popular medium widely accessible to students is television and radio. The survey had revealed that only 9.3% of students did not have either a television or a radio.

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