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Rashmi Ranjan

Rayagada: The changing avatar of education amid the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the extent of digital divide in Odisha more than ever.

Forget about 4G internet connection, many interior pockets of the State are struggling for a standard network for communication.

Now while COVID-19 induced lockdowns and shutdowns have propelled schools and other educational institutions to restart their curriculum via online, lack of infrastructure in remote areas of the State has virtually thrown the education out of existence.

In such an instance, students in Rayagada district have no other option than to climb mountain or higher grounds or even trees to bridge the gap between digital divide and online classes.

According to sources, students of Kandhkhilum village under Sadar block climb nearly mountain in groups to get internet connection for the online classes. With notebooks in their hands, the students walk miles to get the desired connectivity.

This is not an isolated example, students from nearby villages also face the same problem. Some students also climb tress to get internet connectivity, locals say.

“The online education is feasible for students living in cities but for us it is like a distant dream. We are facing serious network issues for which we have to walk four to five kilo metres daily to get internet connectivity,” said Kartika Garadia, a student.

Commenting on this, educationist Dushmant Kumar Mohanty says, “Internet facility is not available many villages in the State. Hence students are forced to walk for miles to get the connectivity. I urge Odisha government to provide internet access to far off parts of the state to make them digitally integrated."

(Edited By Suryakant Jena)

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