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Tamil Nadu gives 2 GB free data to over nine lakh college students

Tabish Neyaz

Tamil Nadu gives 2 GB free data to over nine lakh college students

‘Tamil Nadu gives 2 GB free data to over nine lakh college students’ to attend online classes. Edappadi K Palaniswami, Tamil Nadu chief minister announced on Sunday that the state government will give 2 GB free data per day to more than nine lakh college students from January to April 2021 to attend online classes.

In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, all colleges including arts and science, engineering and polytechnic colleges are conducting online classes.

Colleges in Tamil Nadu is already opened from December 2,2020 for final year post-graduate students. Medical colleges for both undergraduate and postgraduate students also reopened from December 7. As per the notice, the college for final year undergraduate degree courses would begin from February 1, 2021. It is to be noted that the attendance remains voluntary.

Though colleges have reopened for final year UG and PG students, yet a majority of them prefer online classes. Online and hybrid classes are continuing in the state. The move would ensure that students have access to online content and classes as well without a lag..

“More than nine lakh students will get free 2 GB data every day to help those studying in government and aided arts and science colleges, polytechnic colleges, engineering colleges and to those students receiving scholarships in private colleges to attend online classes from January to April 2021,” CM said in a statement.

The data cards will be distributed through Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu Ltd (ELCOT), he added. He further requested students to use free data for online learning.

Mixed Reactions received!

Whilst the industry representatives appreciated the move as the one that would bridge the digital gap, educational consultants felt a futuristic plan would help instead of a temporary solution.

Tamil Nadu has been a fore-runner in enabling technology-driven education for years now. Almost a decade back, the State provided free laptops to students in need and followed it up by installing smart boards in schools across the State.

“With multi-modal learning becoming the new normal, it’s heartening to note that the State is providing 2 GB data cards to students to enable them to participate in online classes, and continue their learning anytime, anywhere and with any device,” said R Ramkumar, immediate Past President of Madras Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

He highlighted that in a new digital-driven era, strong educational and communication infrastructure are critical for government, business and society at large.

This move by the government would significantly bridge the divide between the haves and the have nots and drive the much-needed access, equity and quality in a socially aware and inclusive society, he added.

But educational consultants felt a long-term plan involving institution in its discussion would have served the purpose in a bigger and better way.

Setting up hubs – a better idea?

“The decision appears to be a last-minute action. Instead of spending huge money on issuing data card to students, the state government could think of setting up hubs near each college or village through national knowledge network that can offer 10 gigabits per second bandwidth. This will entail only one-tenth of the cost and the bandwidth will also be much faster,” said D Nedunchezian, an educational consultant and founder of Technocrats India College Finder.

“Though students may carry data cards, some of the villages may not have required bandwidth of that particular company, and as a result, it may not solve the purpose. Setting up hubs in each school or village will help students use it effectively by maintaining social distancing norms near the hubs,” he added.

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