How children of waste-pickers beat the digital divide to clear HSC exam

Even as the Covid-19 pandemic took a toll on most students, it has been particularly hard on students from modest backgrounds who had to manage their education with limited access to phones for online classes. But braving all odds, a number of children of waste-pickers of Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat (KKPKP) came out with flying colors and are excited about fulfilling their higher education dreams.

One such student is Jay Adhik Sonawane who scored 65.3 per cent in Commerce. A student of Camp Education Society’s high school and junior college, he aims to pursue a bachelor’s degree in commerce shortly. “I dedicated at least eight hours every day to studying using online sources and attending classes on my smart phone. When the classes switched to offline mode, it became easier for me to cope. I helped my mom in her daily household chores while she did waste picking during the day time. Later, I studied for four hours and spent the rest of the time playing cricket, ”says Sonawane who considers former Indian cricket team skipper Virat Kohli his inspiration from him. “Kohli sir belonged to a humble background, and look where he is today. I hope to make my parents proud too,” he said.

Offline learning was the preferred mode of learning for Akbar Bualisha Makandar, a technology geek and a computer enthusiast from MK Society School. He scored 65.17 per cent in the science stream of Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, and Information Technology and said that it was his passion for computers that has gotten him so far. “Alongside computers, I have a great interest in the game of Chess. It was my father who got me into the game and asked me to teach it to him on desktop. I believe that if it were not for the game, my online classes would have become too tiring for me. I took my classes on my desktop, and played Chess in my free time. It was a break from the monotony of the screen time. Nevertheless, I am glad that at a later stage we had offline classes which helped me create a better rapport with my peers and professors,” said the teenager who wants to pursue a B Sc in Computers from Poona College. “Now I will focus on achieving greater things for my parents who have done their best to provide me with the best while they worked round-the-clock as waste-pickers,” he added.

Disha Khandala, who secured 62 per cent in the Commerce stream from the MES Renuka Swaroop School and Junior College, is determined to work in the corporate world for which she wishes to pursue a Bachelor in Business Administration. She is also keen on learning about Global Affairs while she is at it. “We have just one smart phone in the house and my father had to take that along while he worked in other areas. So, when I could not use his phone from him in the day time, I used my favorite source – physical books – and coordinated with my teachers to get the recording of the classes. Many of our teachers recorded lessons and sent them across to us. It was very convenient,” she said. An avid reader, Khandala said, “My father has supported my passion by providing me with the books I wanted to read. I hope to pursue a career in the corporate world, become the protagonist of my own life, and solve my parents’ problems. They have always been there for me.”

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