How online classes are excluding poor and unconnected schoolchildren

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In India, the children of families who do not have smartphones are being left out of online classes as educational institutions across the country continue to remain shut.

In Goa, where I am based, many schools are foregoing Zoom sessions or “live” classes where the student has to be present in front of the screen for a fixed time each day. With erratic power supply and patchy network issues, we work instead with PDFs, videos, Google forms and WhatsApp.

With the initial novelty of online classes waning, other issues are becoming evident. The biggest one? Online schooling is a huge source of stress for parents who cannot afford to be online and connected.

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As early as in April this year, government-run schools around the country were predicting difficulties with conducting online lessons

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four in five needy Hong Kong families can’t afford a computer for children’s e-learning, study finds

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Children have been taking e-classes because of the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Reuters


Children have been taking e-classes because of the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Reuters

About four in five low-income families in Hong Kong cannot afford computers for their children to take e-learning classes at home while schools are closed because of the coronavirus and one-fifth do not have Wi-fi either, a study has found.

The survey, by the pressure group Alliance for Children Development Rights, also found cases in which students had to share their parents’ mobile phones with their siblings to take the classes.

The alliance urged the government to cut red tape and offer direct subsidies for needy students to buy computers or tablets, rather than having to apply through their schools. The government should also give data SIM cards to needy families without Wi-fi at home, it said.

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The study, conducted

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