Several parents expressed their hardship over the ordeal of not being able to provide their children with smart phones that have become an essential article of possession.
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“Since the time schools have closed, the lives of students have been severely affected. As we are labourers, we are not able to keep a check on our children. When they were going to school, we were assured that they were studying. We do not have the ability to provide them mobile phones with internet access,” said a parent.
Many other parents who live these slums echoed the same misery.
Nand Kumar Verma said, “We cannot afford smartphones. We have one phone which we need to carry to work. We do not earn so much to afford a smart phone for them. Studying from schools is a more convenient option for our children. Online classes have made things difficult. We are daily labourers and cannot look after their studies.”
His wife Rajini Verma stressed over her fear that her children will end up becoming labourers like themselves.
“Some of their teachers come and tell us to give mobile phones to children. This is not possible as our contractor calls us to give work during the day, and we need to keep it with us. Since they are not studying, we are afraid of how they will get admission for higher studies. We fear they will become labourers like us,” she said.
Students residing in the slum area are well aware of the issue. Laxmi Verma told ANI that she has four brothers and sisters. “It is difficult for all of us to study with one phone. Internet pack is also costly and sometimes there are network issues too,” she said.
Sonia Sahu, another student, said that due to network issues, she could not complete her online examination.
“Sometimes, when we are not able to recharge our phones, we miss out on our classes,” she added.
Jayshree Chikane, a teacher at a nearby government school said, “Students do face issues, especially the young kids. At least 50 per cent of our students do not have smart phone access. We try to send them notes over WhatsApp and tell them to call if they have doubts. Most of the kids in our school live in the slums. I am afraid that when they will rejoin, we will have to start from the very basics. Since they belong to lower-economic sections of society, their parents do not pay attention to them. Small children need their parents’ help to study.”