Students have protested in Southern India following the death of a teenage girl who committed suicide due to lack of access to the internet and television.
India was lockdown for almost three months due to fear of the coronavirus spread, leaving millions of children in a dilemma whose families cannot afford access to TV and the internet where they could undertake their education programs.
Devika Balakrishnan, the 14-year-old daughter of a daily wage labourer in the southern state of Kerala was found dead near her family home on Monday, the first day of the new term. Indian media reports said that the girl’s body was found at a deserted spot near her home, and an empty bottle of kerosene just next to her body.
Students activists in Kerala took to the streets to protest her death blaming the government over inequalities of lockdown, with pupils in poor, rural areas far less likely to be able to learn online.
“The government action has put the poor students under stress and pressure,” among the protesters and head of the Kerala Students Union, Abhijith KM told Reuters news agency by phone.
He suggested that the government should enable the poor students to obtain computers at interest-free loans to avoid similar cases in future. India is slowly easing lockdown which was the strictest in the world.
However, schools have not yet reopened. Kerala’s education Minister expressed grief over the girl’s death and ordered an investigation. According to 2018 report of the Internet and Mobile Association of India, more than half of Kerala’s inhabitants have access to the internet.
However, it is one of India’s wealthiest states.