Hyderabad: The digital divide exists, and the COVID-19 lockdown has taught this to students. Even as students who study in premier educational institutions have been asked to attend classes online, not many have had the privilege the attend these sessions regularly. The problems are many.

In the case of a ninth standard student at Narayana IIT Olympiad School in Jubilee Hills, the school management has informed that he might run short of attendance if he is not able to attend the digital class. In a message forwarded to the student over WhatsApp, the management had conveyed that, “Less attended students will not have easy chance to get promoted to next class, attend classes regularly and complete the assignment in time daily, without fail.”

Speaking to NewsMeter, the students’ parent said, “The management has not given space for eventualities like internet issues and lack of facilities. In the case of my son, he had left for his native place in Kurnool, when the lockdown was announced. Since then, we have not been able to bring him back, nor is he able to access these classes, because he has no access to proper mobile data from there.”

Following this, the school had withdrawn the statement.

‘Not all can afford online classes’: EFLU students

The English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU) Hyderabad is regularly conducting online courses for students studying in M.A, B.Ed courses. However, not many are able to attend these classes on a regular basis, mainly due to lack of proper internet connectivity.

“Most students depend on mobile data to access these classes, conducted over Skype. If we take a normal 1.5 GB data pack, it gets over by attending just two classes. There are others who can’t afford this on a daily basis as well,” said a student on the condition of anonymity.

“The university has made attendance compulsory, without taking into account the fact that internet connectivity could be an issue. Many of us have erratic mobile data connections, which means if we are not present at a particular point, we might lose attendance. Those without access to high-speed, regular internet are at a disadvantage, they lose out on these classes. University has not mentioned about such problems,” said another M.A student from EFLU.

“Sometimes, the teacher’s voice itself is not audible during classes conducted via Skype. It feels like a waste of time, data and energy, while we desperately try to listen, but nothing coherent is received,” noted another student.

Meanwhile, EFLU admin has maintained that classes will continue via online mode till April 14. In a circular released on March 31, the university has stated that “Teachers will continue the lessons and other academic activities online as per the academic almanac, while the students of UG, PG, PGDTE, PGDTA, and B.Ed are advised to make optimum use of the online facility.”

Amritha Mohan

Amritha Mohan is a reporter at the NewsMeter. Shortly after completing her Master's in Communication at the University of Hyderabad, she began teaching courses on media and culture as a guest lecturer at the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU), Shillong. Amritha has previously interned with news organisations such as Greater Kashmir and Newslaundry. A lover of travel and photography, she spends most of her time planning road trips to the North-East. Nothing makes her happier than a green turf and a team to play football with. She primarily reports on education, tech, human-interesting and critical features.

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