Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday said the suspected suicide of a Class X student in Malappuram on Monday was not because of any failure on the part of the Education Department as portrayed by the Opposition.
The police were investigating the child’s death. It would be premature to draw any conclusion at this stage, Mr. Vijayan said at his daily news briefing here.
The victim was a student of Government Higher Secondary School, Irimbalayam. Teachers had identified her in advance as one among 25 students who had no smartphone, computer or television to partake in online classes broadcast on Victers channel from June 1.
Her classteacher had spoken to the student and assured her the school would ensure she did not miss out on online classes.
However, the girl’s father had said that his daughter had committed suicide because she could not attend the online classes. (The father worked as a manual labourer, and the lockdown had deprived him of earnings. The family reportedly owned no smartphone, and their television was faulty.)
The Opposition had attempted to politicise the matter by accusing the government of apathy towards students from impoverished families who could not afford e-learning.
Mr. Vijayan said the tragic death had occurred when the panchayat education committee at Irimbilayam and the school PTA had announced that they had an action plan to ensure that these 25 children got access to online learning soon. “I am not going into other particulars of the incident at this stage of the probe,” he said.
Mr. Vijayan said the shift towards online education was temporary. The government hoped to open educational institutions at the earliest. The Centre had said it would consider the reopening of educational institutions in July.
The CM said in-person learning on school and college campuses was inevitable for the all-round development of students. Remote learning was no substitute for campus education.
Out of the estimated 41 lakh students from Classes I to X, around 2,61,784 students have no access to online classes.
The government would not leave them behind. It has ordered LSGIs to arrange for neighbourhood classes and set up computers and televisions in regional study centres.
The KSFE and Kudumbashree Mission were involved in the project. Bevco has promised to supply 500 television sets as part of their CSR initiative.
Mr. Vijayan said the ongoing online classes were a precursor of remote learning that would commence in right earnest only in mid-June. “These are trial classes. The teachers will repeat the lessons. The classes will be archived in online platforms managed by Victers channel. No student need to be worried,” he said.