Smartphones and internet connections may have become a necessity in metro cities, but they still remain a thing of luxury for many living in rural India. The pandemic has made us more reliant on technology. Though many are privileged to attend offices and classes in the comfort of their homes, there are people who don’t have access to these basic facilities in the times of the COVID-19 pandemic.
To overcome such a challenge, teachers in Rajasthan’s Barmer district have been travelling 10-12 kilometres, on camels, to reach the homes of their students.
In Rajasthan’s western-most district, there are many hamlets, where children have limited access to mobile phones and networks.
“Out of 75 lakh students, many do not have mobile phones. So the state government has decided that teachers will go to their homes once a week for class 1-8, and twice a week for class 9-12,” said Saurav Swami, Director of Rajasthan Education Department.
To bridge the digital divide, the Rajasthan Education Department has launched a unique initiative – ‘Aao Ghar Se Seekhein (come, let’s learn from home)’.
Under this programme, the teachers are going to the homes of the children located in small hamlets and holding the classes on the ground. The sandy terrain makes it extremely difficult for the teachers to reach the students via roadways. Hence, they are using camels to crossover the sand dunes.
A study showed that nearly 13 lakh children in Rajasthan have missed schooling in the one-and-a-half years of the pandemic. These are kids who have no access to mobile phones, so they can’t attend online classes, which are advised due to the highly transmissible nature of the COVID-19 virus.
They are also children from remote villages and hamlets where they are unable to join learning through TV and radio.
Education has been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. While a learning crisis had already existed in the country, the COVID-19 has further worsened the state of the educational system.
Amid such testing times, the programme is being appreciated by the beneficiaries.
“I salute and thank this team of teachers. This should be continued further,” said. Roop Singh Jhakad, Principal, Government Higher Senior School, Bhimthal.
(With Inputs From Agency)