Soon after the lockdown was announced, many private institutions, especially in the cities, had started online classes from middle to higher secondary level. Initially, parents were able to give their mobile phones and laptops to the children for online classes, as they too were working from home during the total shutdown period. But that changed after the State government relaxed the lockdown and many started returning to their workplace.
Few parents have managed to buy new mobile phones, SIM cards and avail internet connections for their children to continue online classes, many are not able to spend such money, forcing them to make their children withdraw from online classes.
“As my daughter will be going to Class 10 at a private school in Pammal, she joined the online class from April. Then I could give my mobile phone to her. However, I could not do that after I was asked to come to office after the lockdown was relaxed. So she was forced to quit online class,” said K Chandrasekhar, who works at a factory in Sipcot in Guindy.
Chandrasekhar added that his wife’s mobile phone does not support internet connection, so their daughter could not use it.
Echoing similar views, P Mohankumar, an accountant at a private company in Nungambakkam, said his daughters studying in Class 6 and Class 8, were using his and his wife’s mobile phones for online classes. “However, when I returned to work, only my wife’s mobile phone is available at home. Because of that, one of my daughters could not take up online classes.” Both the fathers also pointed out that they could not afford new mobile phones for their children due to pay cuts.
S Govindaraj, a senior member of TN Private School Forum, said there was good response from the parents during the initial days of online class. “However, once they started going to work, online class strength in several schools fell by more than 50 per cent. Therefore, many institutions have stopped conducting virtual sessions,” he said. According to him, of the 12,500 private schools in the State, about 5,000 from the middle level to the higher secondary stage have conducted online classes during this shutdown.