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This DU College Speed Posts Study Material to Students Hit by India's Gaping Digital Divide

Volunteers of the 'Yuva' group of Rajdhani College.

Volunteers of the 'Yuva' group of Rajdhani College.

Under the campaign, the members of the 'Yuva' group, which was started three years ago, started approaching teachers of the College for sharing their experiences in the virus-induced circumstances. A Google form was prepared in which the students shared their problems, after which they worked for two months to send customised printed material to them.

Eram Agha

In a first, Delhi University’s Rajdhani College started a campaign to dispatch study material through speed post to those hit by the gaping digital divide in India. Under the ‘Utthan’ initiative, almost 380 couriers have been sent to students hailing from different parts of the country, but mostly from Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

In the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, students in India are fighting a war against digital disparity created by a lack of uniform access to technology and bad internet-connectivity for learning. From skipping online classes to sharing one smartphone with two or more siblings, students are battling to keep up with their courses.

Under the campaign, the members of the 'Yuva' group, which was started three years ago, started approaching teachers of the College for sharing their experiences in the virus-induced circumstances. A Google form was prepared in which the students shared their problems, after which they worked for two months to send customised printed material to them.

“Teachers told us that even if students log in for online class there is a disruption in almost 40% cases due to internet connection, or some are unable to attend because of no smartphone. We asked them to identify such children and the funds that have not been used were then utilised to courier the reading printed material,” Anand Prakash, Chemistry teacher in Rajdhani College, the convener of ‘Yuva’, said.

In an earlier News18 report, startling numbers had emerged from Delhi University Teachers’ Association survey-cum-referendum Open Book Examination. In the survey, 85% voted against the Varsity’s decision of OBE for terminal year/semester students.

Besides, more than 50% students from outside Delhi were surveyed to have limited access to resources and 38% were surveyed to not be able to access material even if it was provided to them. Apart from that, 50% students reported that they were not receiving material/inability to access it. It was further revealed that only 28% of students have been able to attend more than 50% of the online classes and only 18% were surveyed to have some digital device other than a phone.

“Due to Covid-19, students have spent months struggling to get learning material. Finally our team managed to courier books to the respective students who had registered under our initiative,” Prakash added.

Principal Dr Rajesh Giri, too, has extended his support and now the organisation is working for getting fee waiver and adjusting the examination fee.

A total of 380 students responded in the Google form. They have now been sent their study material with maximum recipients from Rajasthan (52), Bihar (45) and UP (45).

Ayush Gupta, a Computer Science student and social media head of Yuva Welfare Society, said, “We have spent two-three months in getting this done for our students. Other colleges are trying to mend the gap by providing data packs or money, but we decided to send printed study material.”

On November 2, a Lady Sri Ram College student, Aishwarya Reddy, died of suicide as she had no scholarship money, no laptop and no Hostel room. Her family had said there was no scholarship money to buy a laptop.


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