As the principal of a government-run social welfare residential school in Telangana, S Anitha knew that shifting to online education is a difficult proposition, as hundreds of underprivileged students studying there cannot afford smartphones and tablets. So, she put out an appeal on social media, requesting for used smartphones to help the students in her school shift to online education. While the principal was expecting some of her friends and family to contribute to the cause, the least expected happened. Vedantu, a leading live-online interactive tutoring platform, donated 75 brand new Samsung mobile phones to the school as part of its corporate social responsibility initiative. Others, too, contributed around 20 smartphones.
“Hello everyone. This is a kind appeal to you. You already know how COVID-19 has thrown unprecedented challenges, especially in the field of education… I seek your help and support from you today to provide online education to these underprivileged students. If you have any used but functional smartphones/devices that you might have discarded to buy new ones, please donate them for the cause of a student's seamless shift to online education. A basic model smartphone with regular display and sound is enough. If you do not have, please share this with people who you think can support the cause,” read the message by Anitha, the principal of the Telangana Social Welfare Residential School for Girls in Vikarabad district in Telangana.
Speaking about the response she received, the principal said, “It was really a pleasant surprise. The company representative, who mentioned that he came across my request on social media, approached us and offered to donate 75 new mobile phones to our school. We were touched by their noble gesture”.
Students of Social Welfare Residential School for Girls in Vikarabad with the phones they received for online learning
On Thursday, the principal distributed the mobile handsets to some students who attended the “Mana Vooriki Mana Gurukulam” ( ) programme held at Mominpet. This programme was introduced to encourage teachers to visit villages and clarify doubts of students who are unable to attend school due to the pandemic. “We noticed how elated the parents were as we distributed some of the phones on Thursday. These cannot afford a device for their children’s education,” said Anitha.
In a statement earlier, Vedantu, the tutoring platform, said it had launched the new initiative as part of its Daan Utsav (Joy of Giving) campaign to help and make education accessible and affordable to students in rural India. The company has already donated 150 smartphones, approximately worth Rs 9 lakh, in Telangana. While 75 phones out of the 150 phones were donated to this school, the remaining were given to students of Zilla Parishad High School in Tekriyal village of Kamareddy district.
“The initiative comes at a time when thousands of students have been unable to attend classes due to the restrictions posed by COVID-19 and had to resort to online learning,” said Pulkit Jain, co-founder and product head at Vedantu.
Besides Vedantu, several others also positively responded to the appeal made by the principal.
“I have received at least 20 smartphones; some are used and some are new. Different sections of people, including students, software employees and even a couple of media persons, have responded to my appeal,” she said.
Dr R S Praveen Kumar, IPS, Secretary of Telangana Social Welfare Residential Schools Society, has been at the forefront of guiding students and encouraging teachers to shift to online education during the pandemic.
The Social Welfare School presently has 520 students in total. The teachers have identified students who could not attend the online classes as their parents couldn’t afford a smartphone.
“With the help of teachers and class leaders, we have identified such students. Twelve students have been distributed the phones. In the following days, we will be handing it over to the other students as well. All those who are being given the phones are from classes 8 to 10,” said the principal.