Kochi: It is testing times for people world over as nations grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic. India too has shutdown several public activities with educational institutions set to remain closed at least until July 31. Digital learning is resorted to as an alternative, however, not all students can afford online tools that facilitate this alternative to classroom learning. A magnanimous college principal in Kochi chipped in with Rs 2.5 lakh and launched a fundraiser so that hundreds of her students don't miss out on virtual education.
Dr Shiny Palatty, principal of the Bharata Mata College at Thrikkakara, Ernakulam, decided to conduct a low-key wedding for her son after she noted that most of her students couldn't afford the expenses entailed even for books. Around Rs 2.5 lakh was saved by cutting down on likely wedding expenses. Dr Shiny has already donated this money to buy books for all students enrolled from second-year degree course to post-graduate courses. This made up for half the amount needed to buy 3,200 books required.
Free tablets, broadband data
Even when online classes were started in Kerala early in June as an alternative to classroom learning owing to the curbs on public activity due to the pandemic, Dr Shiny's college had to face a similar predicament. Around 105 students at the institution did not have the required gadgets to attend the virtual classes. About 500 students who had tablets or smart phones could not afford mobile data expenses and more didn't have these gadgets.
The principal then came up with a fund-mobilisation initiative, named BMC digital challenge, to ensure that all students could attend the online classes.
College manager Rev Fr Abraham Oliapurath and assistant manager Rev Fr Binto Kilukkan also fully backed the initiative.
The principal also appealed to the BMC Old Students Association (BOSA), former teachers' association, PTA, management and teachers. With their joint effort, they could amass Rs 10 lakh.
Forty students will be given tablets and 200 students will be given 2GB broadband data for three months on Tuesday. Archbishop Mar Antony Kariyil will inaugurate the event.
However, the principal will not be able to take part in the event as she is under COVID-19 quarantine after her son Ashok Tharyan, an engineer in New Delhi, returned home for the wedding.
Ashok's wedding will be held in a low-key ceremony with just 50 invitees next month.