Satyagraha for access to online classes | #students | #parents

Twenty-four school students living in a remote village in Attappady staged a day-long hunger strike in front of their houses on Sunday as a last resort to grab the attention of the government to their plight.

None of them have been able to attend a single class ever since schools in the State reopened in online mode on June 1. Nearly one-and-a-half months later, 24 students of Kurukkankundu, near Jellippara in Agali grama panchayat, continued to be without any mobile or television access to online classes. None of the 41 families in Kurukkankundu have power connection. Mobile data connectivity too is feeble. “We too are children, we too want to study,” one of the placards held by the students read. All of them are students of Mount Carmel High School, Jellippara, 7 km away from their houses. They used to walk all the way to their school and sometimes carried torches in their bags. But the lockdown rendered the online classes totally inaccessible to them.

They changed their plan to stage a protest in front of the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) office at Agali after the police dissuaded them, citing a High Court ban on strikes.

Change of plan

“The police told us that they would charge cases against our parents. So we had no choice but to sit in satyagraha in front of our houses,” said Ann Maria Thomas, a Class 8 student.

Among them were students of Classes 1 to 10. An all-party meeting held a month ago to address their woes had appealed to the government for help. But none responded.

The settler families who moved into Kurukkankundu about half a century ago are locked in a land wrangle with the Forest Department. All of them have land deeds, but the Forest Department has different claims.

“None is taking an initiative to bring electricity to these people,” said Fr. Saji Joseph, director, Career Orientation and Research in Education (CORE), an organisation under the Palakkad diocese. “We have strong faith in the power of satyagraha, a method of protest taught by Mahatma Gandhi. And we have great hopes too,” said Ann Maria.

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