Madurai

Online NEET coaching out of reach for rural students

Access, inability to afford seamless internet connection come in the way

The COVID-19 pandemic-induced lockdown could not have come at a worst time for S. Sridhar, a student of Government Higher Secondary School in Mullipallam near Sholavandan, who aims to crack the National Eligibility cum Entrance (NEET) examinations scheduled for July 26.

While this is a crucial period to prepare for examinations, lack of access and inability to afford a seamless internet connection at home makes it difficult for him to access online study material.

“I use my mother’s smartphone to read NEET material. However, the quality of mobile phone network is poor. Even if it is available, I cannot afford to spend most of my data as I need to sustain it till the expiry date," he says.

The story of Shridhar is not an isolated case.

Many students from government and government-aided schools in rural areas do not have access to internet connection - this is at a time when the School Education Department plans to conduct an online crash course for these students to crack NEET examination.

Digital divide

“Due to the digital divide, poor students from rural areas are at a disadvantage in attending the examination. Many aspirants still do not have a smartphone or any other electronic device,” says K.Saravanan, the Headmaster of Dr. T. Thirugnanam Primary School.

Chief Educational Officer R. Swaminathan says around 200 students of government and government-aided schools have registered for the online classes.

The online sessions would have four hours of video lectures and another four hours of tests every day.

S. Vennila Devi, a government teacher and a State-level coordinator for NEET examination, says COVID-19 has robbed the government students the opportunity to have residential NEET coaching for a month prior to the examination, as was done for the past two years.

One of the main disadvantages of not attending the online classes would be the loss of opportunities to clarify doubts, says Meenakshi, a student from Kadamuthanpatti village of Sivaganga district.

“I usually score well in my class examinations. But I have been anxious about my preparation during the lockdown period,” she says. Ms. Vennila Devi says all school heads have been instructed to identify students who have issues with internet connectivity. “We will arrange something to sort out this issue,” she says.

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2020 10:24:57 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/online-neet-coaching-out-of-reach-for-rural-students/article31824235.ece

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