Rural students scale hills to access online classes

By Pham Linh   September 30, 2021 | 05:17 am PT
With Covid forcing schools to shut down, rural students in central Quang Ngai Province are being forced to climb trees to attend online classes.

Long Mon, one of the most remote communes of mountainous Minh Long District, is home to many H'Re ethnic communities. Students here have had to start a new academic year via remote learning, even though internet access is not widely available.

At 6 a.m., Dinh Thi Tiep, ninth grade, took her father's phone and walked half a kilometer up the hill in her village to search for a saignal. Her younger sister, who is in fourth grade, grabbed her mother's old phone and followed her up the hill.

Tiep's house is in Ca Xen Village, where the terrain is hilly, with many bumpy roads. Any house located in a concave area cannot receive 4G signal.

Dinh Thi Tiep attends an online class up on a hill. Photo by VnExpress/Thuong Hoang

Dinh Thi Tiep attends an online class up on a hill. Photo by VnExpress/Thuong Hoang

In the first lesson, the teacher came to her house to guide her on how to install online learning software. The signal wasn't stable, so she struggled forever to even log in. Once she "entered" the class, poor connectivity caused blurry images and unclear sound.

The next day Tiep brought the phone up the hill and chose the location with the strongest connectivity. Since doing so, she has not missed a lesson.

"The first period starts at 7 a.m. So I get up an hour early and climb the hill to search for a signal," she said.

Beside Tiep and her sister, many students in Long Mon Commune also have to scale the slopes and hills to search for astrong internet signal to study online.

Last week, Truong Quoc Dat, principal of Primary and Secondary School for Ethnic Minorities, said the school has 228 students, many of which do not have proper equipment to study. But when the education sector unified to enforce online learning, the school still tried to find ways to implement classes.

"Teachers try their best to help students form a passion for studying," he said.

According to him, his school implements remote learning for students between third and ninth grades. Those who don't have phones are divided into groups to study with other classmates.

Dinh Van Tuat (L) and Dinh Thi Ni during an online lesson. Photo by VnExpress/Pham Linh

Dinh Van Tuat (L) and Dinh Thi Ni attend an online lesson. Photo by VnExpress/Pham Linh

Dinh Van Tuat, a seventh grader, visits Dinh Thi Ni's house every afternoon so they can attend online classes together since the boy said his parents don't have a smartphone.

During the stormy season, whenever there is thunder, teachers at school often remind children to be careful with electrical equipment.

On Sept. 20, when Tuat and Ni's teacher was lecturing, the school had a power outage, and the online class had to stop.

Online classes pose many challenges for rural students and many do not have proper electronic equipment. Therefore, the school lets first and second grade students watch lectures on TV. In addition, teachers visit each house to deliver lesson plans.

Dinh KaMach place lesson plan inside a plastic bottle in front of a students house. Photo by VnExpress/Pham Linh

Dinh KaMach places lesson plan inside a plastic bottle in front of a student's house. Photo by VnExpress/Pham Linh

When students and parents are not home, teachers put lesson plans into a plastic tube cut from plastic bottles, much like sending "secret letters."

"Regardless of whether the children study online or not, we still distribute lectures and study material to ensure every child can enjoy the opportunity to study," said Dinh KaMach, a teacher in the region.

According to the Department of Education and Training of Quang Ngai Province, this school year, the province has 66,000 students who cannot study online. Since many face internet connectivity and device shortages, the education sector must deploy this form of teaching in all localities.

VnExpress Hope Foundation's program "Computers for Students" aims to provide tablets, laptops and computers for 3,300 students in circumstances, helping them with access to online education. For more information, kindly refer to this link.

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