ONLINE CLASSES, As virtual education becomes a substitute for conventional classroom teaching, everyone, even those who are quite affluent, are having troubles adjusting to work from home and learn from home. In such a condition of massive, economic crisis, let’s ponder, for a moment, about the large chunk of students who do not have access to smartphones, internet services or electricity.  The “solution” to covering up syllabus has left thousands of students in a state of despair and forced several to commit suicide as they couldn’t keep up with their financially privileged classmates.

We don’t even have to look for some rural area or remote inaccessible regions, this is the story of several students from the heart of Delhi. They live, not even 15 kilometres away from the parliament- where policies regarding their “welfare” are decided.

Some journalists from a prominent news channel visited a place called Yamuna Khadar, a land lock from the river Yamuna and the habitat for about five thousand families of farmers. These families are being affected by floods every year and are displaced from their houses onto roads. These are the people who have been worst affected by the pandemic. When COVID-19 spread occurred in March, their lives came to a standstill and they were left without any means of income or livelihood.

One of the sectors that were affected the most by the COVID-19 pandemic was education. As schools closed down to avoid the spread of infection through children, virtual learning was started by many to prevent stagnation of education. However, for people living in areas like Yamuna Khadar, it’s impossible to attend online classes. They lack smartphones and an internet connection and have been left behind by the era of digitalization. In such a scenario, a local teacher, Satyendra Singh Shakya came to the rescue of these helpless students and started an open-air class for students of 9th standard and a classroom of a thatched hut for students of the 10th standard.

These classes have come up as a lifeline to students who are about to appear for their board exams next year. These classes are being attended by almost 30 students every day.

As journalists visited the site of study, that is, the classrooms, the students explained their situation. Most of them do not own a smartphone for virtual learning and even if they manage one, they don’t have electricity to charge the phones and are dependent on solar power which is irregular. The students also accepted that without those classes held by Satyendra Singh Shakya, it would have been difficult for them to clear their board exams next year.

Mr Shakya is a 25-year-old man, still pursuing his graduation from Agra University. The open classrooms are held under the Barapullah flyover that’s under construction. He is from Badayun, Uttar Pradesh and came to that area in 2012 after completing his 12th. He has been running this school since 2015 and had started with merely 5 students.

In spite of all odds, this man is making a bridge for left out students, under a bridge!

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