Following the launch of three educational video channels and one radio channel in partnership with Jio TV by the state education department on Sunday, parents claim these channels can be accessed only through a good internet connection and smartphone. Students of weak financial backgrounds who do not have access to internet or smartphones will be deprived of these services while physical schools are shut due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Parents agitated that launching educational channels on mobile applications will deprive students who do not have financial resources to access high-end technology. Indrajeet Singh, a parent said, "My children do not have access to a smartphone because I cannot afford it. I work as a courier service personnel on a minimum salary of Rs 7,000 per month. How am I supposed to buy a new smartphone, install internet services and pay monthly bills with this income?"
Along with these channels, Varsha Gaikwad, state school education minister, announced the department will roll out nine more educational channels. Gaikwad said, "The channels will be available 24x7 so that students can access them anytime."
But parents claimed this form of online education via mobile apps will burden them to purchase smartphones in order to avoid academic loss of their children. Sharmishtha Thakur, a parent who serves as a domestic help said, "My children have been complaining that they need a smartphone because their friends are accessing online classes. I work on a daily wage of Rs 200, I cannot afford a smartphone for myself. But now, I am pressurised to buy one for my kids because I do not want them to miss out on learning."
The state government should realise there are many students who do not have access to internet and mobile phones because of lack of financial income and also, because they live in areas where there is no accessibility. Ranjana Sawadkar, a teacher who works in Zilla Parishad (ZP) schools in remote districts of Mumbai and outskirts of Maharashtra said, "Many students come from poor families who can barely afford a one time meal every day. While, some students live in mountainous terrain, forest areas and far off villages where basic electricity supply is limited for six to eight hours a day. How can online education reach these children? Does the state government want to make online education accessible only to those who have smartphones and internet services?"
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