New Delhi: After the Covid-19 pandemic pushed all schools to shut their daily functions, poor students were left in the lurch and unattended to—they had no smartphones to continue their daily classes online. In the past two years, examinations were held online, so poor students couldn’t keep up with their studies due to the pandemic-induced disruption and couldn’t connect online as they had no means to access the internet.

Izharun Rashid, a street vendor at Delhi’s Meena Bazaar, said: “There seems to be very little hope in the education of our kids. My children are studying, but I don’t know which class they are in, they couldn’t attend any examinations since the lockdown last year as they had no smartphone; among all the struggles of life, the struggle of poverty is the most unbearable.”

“Now that it has been two years, my kids don’t know which class they should be in as all the examinations were conducted online and they had no resources to switch to the online mode. Thus, neither could they access study materials shared on WhatsApp nor did they have smartphones to attend examinations,” Rashid said.

Mohammad Asif, a rickshaw-walla, said: “We are poor, we don’t have any savings. All we have is a rickshaw and a shelter. When we cannot even think of possessions, buying a smartphone is a distant dream. It is sad that my children cannot have a  basic schooling just because we are poor. I earn Rs 250 a day and pay Rs 70 to rent the rickshaw; the remaining I spend on food. Food is only what we poor people think of. I can save money only until I am hungry, then, I must buy food which leaves no extra money to buy a smartphone.”

Lalan, another street vendor at Meena Bazaar, said: “Our earnings are not even half of what it used to be before Covid-19. Recently, I managed some money and got a second-hand smartphone, but just after three days, it stopped working. Today, everyone needs a smartphone to work, but I cannot buy it for everyone in my family. I hardly managed to buy a smartphone but that too stopped working. A smartphone could have helped my children spend time studying, but they are still where they were two years ago. There is no growth for them.”