Kids Corner

Students go through dangerous climb for online school in Sri Lankan village

Written by The Frontier Post

Monitoring Desk

BOHITIYAWA, Sri Lanka (AP) — Getting online school lessons for residents of this remote Sri Lankan village requires a trek through dense bushes sometimes visited by leopards and elephants.

Sri Lankan children prepare to access their online lessons climbing tree branches in a forest reserve in their village in Bibila, Sri Lanka, July 2, 2021. Climbing rocks and sitting on tree tops is not part of their curriculum but children in villages surrounding the capital city are doing just that to be able to catch mobile signals to access their online classes. The digital divide fueled by uneven internet access and high data cost has forced many students out of the formal education system in Sri Lanka. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
(AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

The teachers and some 45 schoolchildren in Bohitiwaya then climb more than 3 kilometers (2 miles) to the top of a rock to find an internet signal.

Sri Lankan children share a smart phone to receive their online lessons on a mountain top in a forest reserve in Bohitiyawa village in Meegahakiwula, Sri Lanka, July 2, 2021. Climbing rocks and sitting on tree tops is not part of their curriculum but children in villages surrounding the capital city are doing just that to be able to catch mobile signals to access their online classes. The digital divide fueled by uneven internet access and high data cost has forced many students out of the formal education system in Sri Lanka. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
(AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

Information technology teacher Nimali Anuruddhika uses the signal to upload lessons for her students who haven’t been able to go to school because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The students who also live in the village make the same climb to download online lessons sent to them by their teachers.

Sri Lankan students attend their online classes from a tree house on a mountain in a reserve forest in Lunugala, Sri Lanka, July 3, 2021. Climbing rocks and sitting on tree tops is not part of their curriculum but children in villages surrounding the capital city are doing just that to be able to catch mobile signals to access their online classes. The digital divide fueled by uneven internet access and high data cost has forced many students out of the formal education system in Sri Lanka. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
(AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

Not all have mobiles or laptops, with four or five children sharing one device.

Their parents, most of whom are farmers, often accompany their children. H.M. Pathmini Kumari, who accompanies his sixth-grade son, says the children climb the rock twice a day and their safety is a big concern for parents.

Sri Lankan teacher Ajith Attenayake holds his mobile phone as he uses it to share online lessons with students from a tree house on a mountain in a reserve forest in Lunugala, Sri Lanka, July 3, 2021. Climbing rocks and sitting on tree tops is not part of their curriculum but children in villages surrounding the capital city are doing just that to be able to catch mobile signals to access their online classes. The digital divide fueled by uneven internet access and high data cost has forced many students out of the formal education system in Sri Lanka. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
(AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

The village in the central-eastern part of the island country lacks basic amenities, and its children had been studying in a government school, now closed, that is some 16 kilometers (10 miles) away.

Sri Lankan students sharing smart phones access their online lessons on a mountain top in a forest reserve in Bohitiyawa village in Meegahakiwula, Sri Lanka, July 2, 2021. Climbing rocks and sitting on tree tops is not part of their curriculum but children in villages surrounding the capital city are doing just that to be able to catch mobile signals to access their online classes. The digital divide fueled by uneven internet access and high data cost has forced many students out of the formal education system in Sri Lanka. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
(AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

In the village of Lunugala, some 60 kilometers (37 miles) away, adults escort schoolchildren to a mountaintop treehouse in a forest reserve. It’s about 30 feet high and has internet access. They take turns to upload their homework and download lesson plans.

Schools in Sri Lanka have been closed for the most part since March 2020.

Sri Lankan students walk down from a nearby mountain after attending their online classes in Bohitiyawa village in Meegahakiwula, Sri Lanka, July 2, 2021. Climbing rocks and sitting on tree tops is not part of their curriculum but children in villages surrounding the capital city are doing just that to be able to catch mobile signals to access their online classes. The digital divide fueled by uneven internet access and high data cost has forced many students out of the formal education system in Sri Lanka. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
(AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

Authorities say they make every effort to provide all children access to education, but Joseph Stalin, who heads the Ceylon Teachers’ Union, says at most 40% of Sri Lanka’s 4.3 million students can participate in online classes. The majority lack access to devices or connectivity.

Sri Lankan children walk down a mountain after attending their online lessons in a forest reserve in Bohitiyawa village in Meegahakiwula, Sri Lanka, July 2, 2021. Climbing rocks and sitting on tree tops is not part of their curriculum but children in villages surrounding the capital city are doing just that to be able to catch mobile signals to access their online classes. The digital divide fueled by uneven internet access and high data cost has forced many students out of the formal education system in Sri Lanka. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
(AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

Sri Lanka’s government on Monday began a campaign to vaccinate all teachers with a view to reopen schools soon.

Courtesy: AP News

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