‘Donate smartphones, laptops to help poor students’

Pune Zilla Parishad’s bid to bridge the digital divide for school education gets Supriya Sule’s backing

Published - July 06, 2020 12:52 am IST - Pune

Adapting: The Pune Zilla Parishad is planning e-classes for around 14,000 students enrolled in its schools.

Adapting: The Pune Zilla Parishad is planning e-classes for around 14,000 students enrolled in its schools.

With online teaching the only way ahead for students in the backdrop of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Pune Zilla Parishad has appealed to citizens to donate old smartphones and used laptops to help poor students continue with e-classes during the lockdown.

Ayush Prasad, chief executive officer (CEO), Pune Zilla Parishad, issued a directive recently mentioning that 50% of the students who had enrolled in ZP schools were from poor households in rural areas and did not have smartphones.

For the moment, the ZP is planning e-classes for around 14,000 students enrolled in its 3,500-odd primary and secondary schools. At least 50% of these families do not have smartphones.

The ZP is also planning to use the lockdown period for a structural overhaul of the education system in Pune’s rural area.

“Of the 2.32 lakh households that we have surveyed in Pune’s rural region, around 60% have a smart phone. We need one lakh more phones in working order for more students to avail of the benefits of online education,” Mr. Prasad said.

The other problem, he pointed out, was that 35 villages in Bhor, Velhe and Junnar tehsils lacked proper mobile connectivity, posing problems for schools sited in these places.

“We are in the process of providing fibre optic internet to these backwater villages. So, the installation and accessibility of internet will not only resolve the problem of accessing online education imposed by the COVID-19 situation, but will bring about a permanent connectivity solution for these areas,” Mr. Prasad pointed out.

To give a push to Pune ZP’s initiative, Nationalist Congress Party leader and Baramati MP Supriya Sule, made an earnest appeal for citizens to help out children from the social margins living in the rural areas.

“The pandemic has forced schools to remain shut. The paucity of android phones, computers, tablets in rural areas has made it hard for students to begin e-classes. I appeal to citizens to help out these less privileged students and contribute to the ZP’s initiative,” Ms. Sule said.

Mr. Prasad, who said that the ZP was looking to commence the first phase of online education from July 15, added that an app with video sharing content had been created along with a syllabus for a 30-week course.

“The State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) will be creating a workbook for students. As far as the tutorial part is concerned, we are recording videos of teachers at the city-based Yashwantrao Chavan Academy of Development Administration (YASHADA) which has a virtual classroom studio,” Mr. Prasad said, adding that the online system, once streamlined, would also help students learn at their own pace and get their queries resolved in a more efficient manner than in a regular classroom.

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