Bhanu P Lohumi
Tribune News Service
Shimla, July 29
As many as 18,294 students are without smartphones and students of 225 schools with poor or no internet connectivity are at the receiving end.
They have little access to online teaching and are lagging behind others. A maximum number of 5,314 students (Class VI to XII) are without smartphones in the backward district of Chamba, followed by Mandi (2,723), Una (2,251) Sirmaur (1,838), Hamirpur (1,698), Kullu (1,560), Shimla (1,355), Kangra (1,047), Kinnaur (548), Solan (310), Bilaspur (185) and Lahaul and Spiti (95).
Even 225 schools have no or poor internet connectivity and 46 such schools are in Sirmaur district, followed by Kullu (45), Lahaul and Spiti (23), Chamba and Una (19 each), Mandi (18), Bilaspur (17), Hamirpur (15), Kangra (12), Kinnaur and Solan (5 each) and Shimla (1).
The issue was brought to the knowledge of Education Minister Govind Thakur during a virtual interaction with teachers and parents that a segment of students did not have smartphones while the internet connectivity is a problem in some remote areas, following which he launched the “donate a mobile” campaign to provide phones to students and over 1,000 mobiles had been distributed, said Director, Higher Education, Amarjeet Sharma. The students, who were deprived of online education, were provided computer-generated and hand-written copies of lessons. Teachers had been assigned the duty to deliver the lessons at home or at common distribution centres at regular intervals, he said.
To start with, students studying in Class X and XII would be provided smartphones in the first phase.
“Talks are also being held with the BSNL and other telecom service providers to set up towers in places where the internet facility is not available or the network is weak,” he said.
There are network issues in Kullu, Sirmaur, some parts Pangi and Bharmour in Chamba, Lahaul and Spiti, Kinnaur and a few pockets of Mandi and Una, besides Dodra Kwar of Shimla district, as per the report submitted by the Deputy Directors, education, principals and headmasters.