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Maharashtra Students Resort To Climbing 'Network Tree' To Attend Online Class

Maharashtra's Gondia district sees students climbing atop a "network tree" to access online classes.

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As more and more students shift to the online mode to attend class in lieu of the lockdowns, people from rural areas are finding it increasingly difficult to keep up. Be it access to these smartphones or laptops, or getting network coverage, online classes have brought light to this divide between rural and urban communities.

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In a similar case, students from Maharashtra's Gondia district have reportedly found a "network tree" that they have been using for the past 15 months to attend online class.

The tree is 200 metres away from the area's only mobile network tower has about 150 children using it on a daily basis, with pens and notebooks in one hand, and mobile phones and earphones in the other.

Atul Gondhale, a polytechnic student, travels 18 kms from his home to reach the tree, and attend class from there. "Every day one has to come near this tree to study. Often classes are missed due to heavy rain in monsoon. This is the only place where the network is good, other places have no network," he said in a statement to NDTV.

This situation is an eye-opener to the current state of India's online push, and shows its hard reality, where a large portion of the country's population will be left behind or neglected due to lack of resources.

Another student, Mayur Hattimare, said, "We can't attend online classes from home, and we have to bring books here. Sometimes there is a class at 8 or 8:30 at night. Yet we have to come here to study. There is no network available on our mobile phones. If we have to reach the teacher or pass on information by calling, that is not possible."

This incident made Jenice Somji, an educator working with NGOs across Pune want to do something about the situation. This led to the creation of a petition on change.org, a well-known petition website, to declare a digital learning plan for rural areas of Maharashtra and make online learning accessible to all.

"The same thing happened in Dhadgaon village in Nandurbar district . A teacher there made news for giving lessons to children using a smartphone while sitting on the top of a tree to get a better Internet connection. I suspect this is happening all over my state. My online petition on change.org is asking Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad to declare a digital learning plan for children in rural Maharashtra so that no child is forced to drop out," said Somji.

(With inputs from NDTV).

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