Most students now have to continue their education online ever since the Covid-19 outbreak took over the world. For those that already own a smartphone or laptop with a good internet connection, attending classes have been easy, however, there are plenty of those that simply cannot afford these devices and have no access to the internet, making it impossible for them to attend classes online.
A 14-year-old from Kerala, India, allegedly took her own life when she could not attend classes because she did not have TV or smartphone.
According to Al-Jazeera, the student went missing from her house on 1 June and was found dead at a deserted spot near her home at about 3.30pm. Her body was charred and an empty bottle of kerosene was found nearby. She is believed to have set herself on fire, said the police.
Her father, a Scheduled Caste daily wager with hardly any income during the ongoing coronavirus lockdown, spoke to reporters and said that they have a television at home that has not been working.
“She told me it needed to be repaired but I couldn’t get it done. I couldn’t afford a smartphone either,” he said.
“I don’t know why she did this. I said we could look at options, like going to a friend’s house.”
To add to the family’s financial burden, the girl’s mother had given birth a few weeks ago and the family had hardly any money.
“The family was financially very strained and the girl was worried she would not be able to study further, or that her studies would be affected,” a senior police official told NDTV.
“Initial reports suggest she was upset about not having access to the TV or online classes since they started.”
Kerala Education Minister C Raveendranath has sought a report from district-level education officials on this tragic incident.
Student activists have since taken to the streets in Kerala to protest the girl’s death, which has highlighted the inequalities of the lockdown, with pupils in poor, rural areas far less likely to be able to learn online.
“The government action has put the poor students under stress and pressure,” said Abhijith KM, who heads the Kerala Students Union and was among the protesters.
“It should enable the poor students to obtain computers at interest-free loans to avoid similar cases in future.”
India has recorded a total of 287,155 cases including 140,979 recoveries and 8,107 deaths.
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