Samir Ranjan Dash, Odisha’s School and Mass Education Minister on Saturday said that poor internet connectivity in the state has led many students to walk miles, climb hills and trees to attend online classes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has taken up the matter with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In order to expand net connectivity in remote areas of the state, He said.
Dash exclaimed that about 22 lakh children are now using the facility of e-education in the state. While the remaining 38 lakh students are deprived of the facility due to non-availability of mobile network in their areas.
The minister raised this issue at his Independence Day address at the district headquarters in Jaipur.
As schools are closed since March on account of Covid-19, the state government has started online classes. However, only one-third of the students are able to avail of the facility with much difficulty due to poor internet connectivity. This issue of unstable internet connectivity has left many in despair.
Reports from Angul and other districts said children have to climb trees to get net connection for attending online classes.
According to reports received by the government students in Rayagada district walk miles and climb hills to attend online classes. The people in Sambalpur and Deogarh districts climb high rise water tanks for getting net connectivity.
Mr Dash said “I am happy that my department has been imparting online classes but children have to climb trees, hills to get net connectivity. This is a central issue and our Chief Minister has taken up the matter with the Prime Minister for expanding net connectivity in remote areas of the state,”.
“Had there been no online classes, the reports of children climbing hills and trees would not have received. I am happy that our teachers are taking online classes.” He said.
The minister acknowledged that it has been proposed that teachers will visit areas where there is a poor internet connection. The teachers will be teaching them in their homes.
He clarified that since three months of the new academic session have already passed, the department has already set up committees to reduce the school syllabus accordingly.
The revised syllabus will be finalized next week, he said. On reopening of the schools, Dash added that the government has no immediate plan for reopening of schools in view of the surge in COVID-19 cases.
He said the Centre has closed the schools till August 31. The Centre may ask states to take decisions on school reopening in September. However, going by the rising number of COVID-19 cases in August. It cannot be said that the situation will be normal next month in Odisha, Dash added.