Sunday, September 26

NRI lady’s effort makes online classes possible for slum kids

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Bishwabijoy.Mitra@timesgroup.com

The nation-wide lockdown has turned life on its head for almost all of us. But those on the lower rungs of the economic ladder are the worst hit. True, governments and many citizens have been working hard to ensure that they are not deprived of food or basic necessities during the lockdown, but most missed another fundamental need — connectivity, especially for school kids.

This is where retired banker Manju Basu comes into the picture. The US resident, who couldn’t fly back home after her annual Kolkata visit due to the lockdown, has decided to cater to this necessity. And on Saturday, she and her friend Tamisra Das distributed a few refurbished smartphones among school kids in a north Kolkata slum. Their aim: to provide these kids the means to catch up with their studies and attend online classes being conducted by their schools.

Speaking to us about how she got the idea, Manju said, “As I was bored sitting at home, I joined Tamisra in distributing food among slum dwellers and villagers. During one such visit, I met this little girl and asked her about studies. She told me that her school was conducting online classes, but she was missing them as her parents couldn’t afford a smartphone. I was heartbroken. No one should be deprived of education just because they can’t afford a smartphone and to stay connected.”
That’s when she decided to ensure connectivity for these kids so that they don’t miss classes. She and Tamisra managed to gather eight smartphones and get them repaired. And these are the phones they distributed on Saturday.

Among the beneficiaries is Shouvik Paul, a Class XII student of Shyambazar AV School, whose parents couldn’t afford a smartphone. The son of a tea seller told us that he has to fully rely on school lessons as his parents cannot afford private tuitions. “For two months now, I have been missing classes and couldn’t even collect notes from my friends because of the lockdown. So, this phone has come as a boon for me,” he said.
Class VII student Shibham Paul, whose father is a small-time idol maker, said that owning a smartphone was way beyond his dreams till Manju gave him one. “Now that I have a smartphone, my mother has told me that she will only let me use it during school hours. But at least now, I will be able to attend regular classes,” he said.

 

Source: Times of India

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