New Delhi [India], June 2 (ANI): Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has written to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan drawing his attention to the plight of a large number of tribal students in Wayanad unable to benefit from "First Bell" initiative by the state government due to lack of access to electronic devices or internet.
The Wayanad MP, while stressing that the COVID-19 pandemic poses significant challenges for classroom teaching this year, said that the 'First Bell' initiative by the Kerala Government is an "innovative move towards establishing digital classrooms".
In his letter to the Kerala Chief Minister, dated June 1, the Congress leader said: "While it serves as a temporary alternative, its success depends on students' access to digital infrastructure like computers, smartphones, cable television and reliable internet connections."
"I would like to draw your attention to the plight of a large number of tribal students in Wayanad, unable to benefit from this initiative because they have no access to electronic devices or the internet and will thus be disadvantaged right at the start of the academic year," he added.
The Congress leader expressed concern that this may "worsen educational inequities" in a district which, he said has one of the highest school dropout rates in the state.
The Congress leader requested Kerela government to extend necessary support to tribal students to access digital tools.
"I request the Kerala Government to kindly extend necessary support to tribal students to access digital tools necessary to make this initiative meaningful for them. I understand that efforts are being made to distribute devices to underserved communities," he said.
The Congress leader said he would be happy to extend his "fullest support" toward augmenting digital infrastructure in his constituency.
"We must work collectively to bridge this digital divide. I would be happy to extend my fullest support towards augmenting digital infrastructure in my constituency," he said.
In a separate letter to Waynad District Collector, Dr Adeela Abdullah, the Congress leader said he received reports about challenges faced by tribal students in accessing digital classrooms and other initiatives rolled out under the "First Bell' initiative.
"I have received reports about the challenges faced by tribal students in accessing digital classrooms and other initiatives rolled out under the 'First Bell' initiative," he said.
"Online classes pose significant challenges for students with limited access to smartphones, computers and reliable internet connections. Wayanad's tribal students, particularly those in remote hamlets, are likely to be left behind due to this digital divide," he added.
The Congress leader offered his support and assistance towards the procurement of devices for students.
"This is particularly troubling given the high dropout rates among tribal students in the district. I would be glad to extend my support and assistance towards procurement of devices for students in underserved communities and request that you share with me details of these communities and their specific requirements," he said in the letter to District Collector. (ANI)