The Struggle is Real: Students in Remote Goan Villages Forced to Trek Miles to Access Internet
By: Ronnan Da Cunha
Along some of Goa’s most remote areas, students, equipped with just a mobile phone and an umbrella, begin their day with a treacherous trek of three kilometres up a hill, to get access to decent internet connectivity to facilitate their online classes.
School students have had no other option, as with poor, to at times no internet connectivity, they have to make the journey atop a hill located within Goa’s Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary.
Bhati, a village in Sanguem area along the Western Ghats, sees its students wake up every morning and head for the hills to be a part of the online classes being conducted across schools in the state. With recent heavy spells of rains, students have battled the odds, and the everyday struggle is hardly set to ease off, as, despite repeated representations, nothing tangible appears to be changing on the ground.
The villages along the eastern border of the state, are home to Goa’s most remote hinterlands, much unexplored, and vastly left behind in the race towards development. Netravali village, in Sanguem taluka, has about seven towers of the BSNL services, however, only two are functional. Officials have been repeatedly called upon to address students' concerns, but it continues to be a ‘we will look into the matter’ topic.
The concerns don’t just end at rains and winds, as being densely forested, the hilly regions of these villages are home to a variety of wild animals. Many school students from other close-by villages of Sulcorna too, have had to face adversities due to poor internet connections.
At the top of the hill, students tune in to the online classes for the day, sitting on flat barren rocks, which many times are spotted with snakes. A few months ago, a similar story surfaced from Surla village, another of Goa’s remote areas along the Goa-Karnataka border. Students would wrap themselves in tarpaulin sheets due to the heavy rains and attend online classes under these.
For Surla students, a tower in Karnataka was their only hope to get access to a decent internet connection. The trek to the top would be very dangerous for students during monsoons due to several gushing river streams and slippery hilly terrains.
As online education is being undertaken across most of the schools and colleges in the state given the coronavirus pandemic, many students residing in these remote villages face hard-hitting problems.
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