Forest and Exams: Inside Rural Northeast’s Digital Learning

As the country enters the 5th month of lockdown, online learning has become the new normal for the schools and students across the country. While many urban students have ease of online classes at the comfort of their home with 4G/fiber internet connections, many students in the rural Northeast states do not enjoy such privileges.

In his article ‘Education in times of Lockdown‘, Amar Kasomwoshi, a school Principal and a well-known educationist in Ukhrul, informs that many students in Villages do not own smartphones and parents, in spite of their less income, has to shell out Rs 6000-10,000/- to procure smartphone so that learning continues.

Apart from not having smartphones, the other major issue students in rural Northeast face is the poor internet connection. While Reliance plans to make 2G services history in India, many rural parts of Northeast are still equipped with old 2G, just enough for WhatsApp, forget watching YouTube videos. Even 2G services are not available in most villages neighboring international boundaries. For instance, in many Tangkhul villages neighboring Myanmar like Kamjong, Myanmar’s MPT Network has much better coverage than Airtel’s network. Though the situations are improving by installing telephone towers in most of the border villages, these connectivity issues needs to be addressed as it also posses a great security threat.

Despite 2G/3G/4G connectivity, it is not always and anywhere available. Often it is in a particular spot or during some particular time that people in rural NE villages can access internet services. This has become a great burden for the students in the villages who has to go for online learning.

While many students in urban areas are taking classes on Zoom or WhatsApp at the comfort of their sofas, many students in rural NE villages have to suffer, some even have to trek to the jungle, to a particular spot where internet is available, to study online.

Tsurhu Village

Here is such one story of students from Tsurhu Village, a Sema Naga Village in Nagaland’s Zunheboto district. With the help of Local Pastor and Local Student Union, around 39 students from the village have been taking online exams in the jungle in a particular spot, the only area inside the dense forest to receive internet connectivity in the entire village.

ThePrint’s Angana Chakrabarti and Yimkumla Longkumer bring you the story from the dense forest of Tsuruhu village.

Kudos to ThePrint team for covering such stories from the Northeast.

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