With online classes going on in most parts of the country, those living in villages with little or no network connectivity continue to be the worst hit. So much so that some children from the border areas of Karnataka trek for kilometers to catch networks from neighboring states of Maharashtra or Goa.
Close to 100 students from 35 villages trek up through a dense forest area every day – rain or shine – to a patch that catches a somewhat decent network, the residents have said.
“Schools have been shut by the Govt of India due to the pandemic. So we have to attend online classes. But there is no network in our village. So we are forced to walk 2-3 killometers in deep jungles for the network. There is fear of wild animals there. I have my friends with me, to attend the online classes,” says Vishesh Dhanna, a tenth class student.
“Nearby Maharashtra and Goa states’ mobile towers’ range is available in some spots. Kids go through these dense forests to look for the network. They try to finish study amidst threats of wild animals. Students and families only hope that there is a mobile tower setup here and our problems are resolved,” says Gundu Gawde, a resident of Chikhale village.
Children from Parwad, Chikale, Chugule, Chorla, Man, Huland are some of them who continue to face the issue.
“The Goa government has erected a tower at Sural. However, due to the non-functioning of the program, many villages in the area are in a dilemma,” said Datta Gawde, a resident of Parwad village.
Many of these villages in Khanapur taluk of Belagavi district are in the reserve forest area. Access to basic needs is a daily uphill struggle, despite the tall promises. Anjali Nimbalkar, MLA of Khanapur tweeted the pictures and concern.
“Right now we have been talking to few mobile operators so they can set up towers but since it is a reserve forest area there are its own concerns and problems. I got to know the three departments — RDPR, ITBT, and education — are planning for gram panchayat wifi which I had suggested they take up strongly so that these children can sit at once place with social distancing during this pandemic for better education,” she told CNN News18.
As many as 39% of students in the state don’t have access to a mobile phone or computer device, as per a survey by the state government. Mobile banks for donation and a mentor scheme are some plans by the government on the anvil as it becomes clear that offline classes are still some way away.