THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A few weeks have passed since Ajith Kumar, who completed his Class IX from Government High School, Aryanad, received Class X textbooks from his school. Classes have resumed online and teachers have also started sharing notes on WhatsApp. However, Ajith is yet to join as he lacks a smart device to access the recorded video lesson.
He wasn’t even able to access the classes on KITE Victers Channel, the online education channel launched by the state government in June, since he doesn’t even have a television set at home. But, this is set to change soon.
Under the Mankode Eco-development Committee in Kottoor, the forest officials have come up with ‘Vanika Smart Challenge’, an initiative to collect used smartphones which can be repaired and reused by children in tribal settlements. This is the second initiative under the banner of Vanika. During the initial lockdown, Vanika had supported and helped those from tribal settlements to sell their produce online.
Through the online initiative, the forest officials were able to sell agriculture and forest produce items worth Rs 2 lakh benefitting the tribal community largely. “Many children in tribal settlements had faced difficulties to access the KITE Victers channel due to lack of electronic devices and network connectivity at their homes. However, we were able to arrange a facility for those through our employment guidance centre in Kottoor.
But, since they were unable to clear their doubts when classes were telecast, teachers began sending recorded lessons to the students through WhatsApp. This added to the woes of tribal children who don’t have a phone,” said Sinukumar K C, section forest officer, Kottoor. “One of our helpers from the settlement enquired if we could provide an old smartphone for her children to access classes -- this prompted us to start such an initiative,” he said.
Many organisations and IT employees have come forward to donate the used smartphones. Those interested in contributing can contact 8547602958. The forest officials have also been able to provide around 800 study materials to the tribal children residing in the six settlements in Kottoor. Covid-19 relief kits contributed by city-based Vinobhanikethan, a charitable trust, have also been distributed among 133 families under the Kottoor section. “If we manage to collect more smartphones, we plan to distribute them to children in the tribal settlements in the Peppara region,” Gopika Surendran, beat forest officer of Mankode Committee.