Two alumni of Kesari Higher Secondary School also come forward to enable online classes for these kids
Last year, when online classes became the only option, the management did not expect the situation to drag on for an entire academic year. Apart from classes on Kalvi TV, teachers managed to teach with whatever devices the students had at home.
“We did not think of approaching any donor as we thought the situation would get better soon,” says Nagula Gopalaiah, the government-aided school’s headmaster.
But the digital divide was unbelievably wide. Some students accessed the lessons in the evening after their working parents returned home from work. “Some parents did not have a smartphone, which meant teachers had to explain the lessons over the phone,” says the headmaster.
Before the school was getting ready for another year of online classes, the management wanted the teachers to upgrade themselves to take lessons on laptops.
“We first organised an orientation class for all our teachers wherein they were taught the nitty-gritty of online classes as well as how to engage with students,” explains Gopalaiah.
That is when they discussed how to bridge the digital divide among the students. Teachers planned a donation drive among themselves and pooled in money to buy 13 tablets.
Priority was accorded to students who lost an earning family member, parents with no smartphone, single mothers and siblings having to share a device.
Help from alumni
The list of deserving students was greater the number of the devices that had been procured. The school then reached out to well-wishers and two alumni came forward to help.
P. Bhagavathi, who retired from the school in 2017, contributed ₹55,000 from her pension amount to procure five tablets. “I worked in the school for 30 years and my affinity with the institution continues. This is a small way of giving back to the school that gave so much to me,” says Bhagavathi, a Pammal resident.
Another old student, who did not want to be named, contributed nine desktop computers amounting to ₹2.5 lakh. The well-wisher took advice from his children and put a lot of thought into selecting the mini-desktop for the beneficiaries.
“Desktop computers are more convenient to work on. We bought them for a class of 10 students, along with connectivity for five months and an extension box. As the school is a Telugu minority institution, we customised the keyboard to have both English and Telugu letters. Python programming and a few other essentials were incorporated so that the device will have long-term use with the students,” says the alumnus of the school who also gives scholarships to deserving students.
The 75-year-old school is one of the oldest Telugu minority schools in the city, with 380 students studying from classes VI to XII. It has another branch at R.K Salai.
“I am sure these gestures are going to go a long way to help us cater to the Telugu-speaking students in the city,” says Gopalaiah.
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