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Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Goa student dies by suicide for want of mobile, victim of Government apathy towards economically marginalised students, Goa CM answerable for this sad incident!

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The disturbing suicide of a 10th Std student Rohit Varak from Pal-Sattari is a sad indicator that Online Education is still inaccessible to many from economically weak families. When parents are struggling to just get a square meal for the family, it’s an impossible task for them to provide a smartphone phone.

I have been repeatedly giving pointers on the issues but this Government is not in the habit of taking constructive suggestions. The need to revive cyberage scheme was raised on several occasions. The students could have been provided with mobile phones under this scheme.

As the requests to Government were falling on deaf ears, I had in my own little way, undertaken a Mobile Challenge Campaign and was able to provide more than 100 smartphones to needy students in my constituency. The CMOs could have definitely taken a cue and acted to collect details of students who couldn’t afford smartphones and made arrangements to provide for the same. This would have surely averted the loss of a young promising life.

I hope that atleast now CM who unfortunately for the students also holds the Education portfolio, will take immediate action on a war footing to avoid another loss of life.

Frustration is mounting amongst the students and parents due to connectivity issues specially in rural areas. BSNL has failed to provide the service. Instances of students hiking kilometres to higher altitudes to be in range has become a regular phenomenon in rural areas. There are several students who have been completely away from online classes due to lack of network connectivity.

It’s a clear indication of Administrative Lethargy that’s plagued the Dr Pramod Sawant lead Government as there’s no follow up action on its announcement to take up installation of towers on different state owned buildings through PWD. Cabinet decision has been waiting for implementation.

Shri Pramod Sawant should stop making big political statements and concentrate more on making good on the announcements already made, especially when it comes to our student community.

It’s also been highlighted that Rohit’s mother & grandmother were beneficiaries of Griha Aadhar & DSSY but sadly the Government had failed to credit the money into their accounts.

The instructions of Education Dept asking teachers to visit residences of students has resulted only in photo-ops. There is no follow up or monitoring of the activity by the Department.

There has been no effort to study the impact of Online Schooling and a comprehensive study conducted through independent agency is urgently warranted. Asking the teaching fraternity to give data about the impacts and drawbacks of online classes will not provide a correct picture as it’s likely that the data will be fudged to please Education Department for fear of reprisals if correct picture is projected. This Government is already proved it’s notoriety by harassing the Medical Fraternity for speaking out.

Denial of basic amenities for Education is tantamount to Denial of Right to Education. Children are our future and it’s a total failure of Governance when they’re forced into a suicide!

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