Our city students might not be facing hassles for their online schooling but those in the village, have so many challenges.
Apart from not having smart phones, majority of them do not have internet connection or else it is so poor that it does not allow seamless learning. Doordarshan did anticipate this problem and for the benefit of the rural children, does conduct some classes but they are not popular because many do not own a TV and those who do have, complain that most of the stuff being taught is outdated. Not being interactive is also a big impediment.
To get over this and ensure children keep on learning, many villages in Bihar have taken to private tutoring. Now this sounds very elitist but it is anything but that. There are a few school teachers, noble enough to keep the education going and they take tuitions, either at their home in small batches while maintaining social distancing or go to the students house. Their fees – anything between Rs200 to Rs1000 per month and they teach one hour everyday.
Most of the villagers are farmers and they say, they haven’t seen cash in three months, whatever little they have they want to store it for medical emergencies. So how do they pay the tutors? With wheat. Yes, wheat has become the cash and teachers also accept it, knowing they will need it and also that this is a temporary phase.
We had heard of barter system in ancient India; who would have thought that barter for education will come to these villages in these modern times?