No Home Wi-Fi, No Virtual Classroom: How Low-Income Students Lose Out During a Pandemic

Schools and higher educational institutions have been shut down in several countries affected by Covid-19 to stop the spread of the infection. Due to the pandemic schools and colleges are opting out for online classes, but the students who don’t have computers or an internet connection are suffering the most. As we know, there are many students who belong to the lower-class family find it hard to get access to these classes due to insufficient resources or lack of knowledge about it. It is difficult for them to fulfill their basic needs. They often work with their parents after returning from school, as schools are now closed due to the pandemic and they have no access to these online classes. They are feeling left out. 

As many surveys are being carried out from which it can be seen that students studying in government and MCD schools don’t have knowledge about these online classes. Many families fall below the poverty line in India, and it's hard for them to earn their wage earning, and quite impossible to buy a computer or a Wi-Fi connection. Many of them don’t even have a smartphone so it's kind of impossible for them to get access to these classes. There are over 13 crore students in India from poor families studying in government and municipal schools and they don’t have any access to these resources. This has caused a lot of disruptions in their studies. 

Some of the students who are able to take online classes find it difficult to understand subjects fully. Subjects like mathematics, students and teachers face problems while teaching and understanding them. Situations are worse for MCD schools who are assigned to work on whatsapp, but many parents don’t have a phone, some of them don’t know how to use whatsapp and some of them take their phone with them on duty. Some of the problems are that the schools don’t have the database for the students or the parents contact numbers, to be able to reach out to them. There are even problems for government schools as some of them don’t have any computer to save data in. 

India is under lockdown for more than four months and schools also made their classes online, so that the studies of students will not get affected. But even after doing so, more than 50 percent of students can’t take classes due to lack of resources. Situations are worse for low income students. They don’t have any information that the classes are going on. They are busy helping their parents in their work. Even schools and government organisations are not paying much attention to them. They are not even providing any resources to students. Most of the students don’t see any hope, they don’t have any idea what they will be able to do in future. Their dreams seem like falling apart, they feel lost. 

There is even a constraint like a household with three students having just one phone. Hopes of low- income students having just one phone. Their hopes have been falling apart. They don’t see any end to this. Many students wish that this pandemic will get over soon so they can attend their classes in school, but with the increment in cases everyday it's kind of impossible that it will be over. Everyone’s life is just shaking and it is greatly affecting studies of students. 

Most of the families don’t even have a smartphone. They are unable to help their children even if they wish to. Even some of the teachers say it’s hard to teach some subjects online. Subjects like maths, students are unable to grab it and can’t understand concepts clearly. The problem of limited resources and poor connectivity are compounded for students with disabilities. A visually impaired student found it hard to study as it's difficult for him to use whatsapp. He has been taken care by his 

grandparents and they are too old to use whatsapp. So not only poor students but students with disabilities are also facing problems. 

CBSE has made it mandatory to attend online classes but they did not give any idea about those who have lack of resources or ways to attend the classes in order to maintain their 75% attendance. They should think about the problems of those people. 

Burden of studies is also increased on students. As they are not aware about online classes and they do not even know how to study. Most of the parents who are illiterate find it hard to help their children in their studies. Due to the pandemic, even tuitions are not available. Due to these situations, many students are also depressed and feel left out. 

Students are only wishing that this pandemic may let over. But with increasing cases day by day it seems hard to see it that way. We are all new to this remote learning, so we will all have to work harder to prevent a big learning gap, government or the schools must provide resources for the students so that they can carry along with their learning. Schools should try to provide laptops to students so that they can attend classes. Government should start some programmes so as to help students grow. Some TV channels are also there which helps students to continue their learning. The central and state governments have announced that lessons will be taught on television and radio, but some NGOs and educational technology firms are looking for innovations that will also bring online content into poorer homes. 

Almost over 154 crores students around the world are affected due to the Covid related school closures. And disrupting schooling can also lead to other harder to measure losses, problems to families and decreased economic productivity, as parents struggle to balance work obligations with child care. Not only Indian students are suffering from this problem but several other countries are also facing the same problem and students are affected everywhere.

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