Technology reaches most remote area in Erode as tele-education helps students know the world

July 12, 2022 05:24 pm | Updated 05:24 pm IST

Students interact with a tutor online at the Government Tribal Residential Middle School at Kathirimalai in Erode.

M. Govarthan

Students interact with a tutor online at the Government Tribal Residential Middle School at Kathirimalai in Erode. M. Govarthan

For the 39 students of Class I to VIII at the Government Tribal Residential Middle School (GRTS) at Kathirimalai tribal hamlet who have not ventured out of their village, listening to tutors online, interacting with experts and getting to know the outer world from their remote area has come as a boon. Thanks to tele-education, technology has made students access online materials.

The hamlet with 76 families comprising 289 people, all belonging to Solaga community, is nested at an elevation of 3,500 feet inside the Chennampatti forest range in Erode Forest Division and comes under the Bargur Panchayat Union in Anthiyur Taluk. One has to traverse the rough terrain for 8.1 km on foot from the foothills at Kathiripatti at Kolathur in Salem district to reach the hilltop. Households in the hamlet are solar-powered while lack of internet connectivity continues to be a major concern for the people and children.

The district administration devised a project,  Punnagai (smile), under which the District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) along with funds from NABARD and with the technical support of Centre for Social Computing (C4S), installed a long-range Wi-Fi network and created required infrastructure, including hardware and software, on the school premises. The project was implemented at ₹ 10 lakh and the support will be for a three year period.

Roshy K Falgunan, Managing Partner, C4S, said that a 15-member team from C4S has been mentoring students on their subjects, teaching basic arithmetic skills, spoken English, general knowledge and interacting with them every day. “There is a significant change among the students as they get to know the world by being in their classroom”, he said.

L.N. Rajaram, tutor, said that they are focusing on grooming students with basics in all subjects for two months and tele-education provides opportunity for the students to get exposed to things that are available for others in plains. The school has two teachers and this is the first time that students get an opportunity to interact with a person apart from their village. “Their interaction with tutors has boosted their confidence”, he added.

Expressing their happiness, students said that they are seeing a new world now as they are able to interact with teachers from various parts of the world. “We are very keen on attending online sessions everyday”, said a student.

District Collector H. Krishnanunni, who is instrumental in bringing the project, told  The Hindu that children of Kathirimalai, who were earlier deprived of opportunity, have a chance to learn new things and develop themselves. “We have achieved success at Kathirimalai, which is the most remote area in the district. With its success, we are planning to introduce the system in 45 habitations in the district that lack internet connectivity”, he added.

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