For some students, the poor economic status of their family has not diminished their determination to succeed and they are using the lockdown period to equip themselves.
B. Gayathri has been taking tuition for neighbourhood children and the coaching centre pays her around Rs.7,000. She also teaches a child at his home and supplements the income.
Her mother is a political worker for a fringe party. “We get food and groceries as parties distribute tokens,” she said. Her father works in a shop in Burma Bazaar but hasn’t been paid for the past month. Her younger sister also takes tuition. She is concerned that there may not be enough money to buy medicines for her diabetic father.
An M.Sc Physics student, Gayathri is preparing for NET through online classes on phone. She wants to become a teacher or a researcher. She works with an NGO, helping them streamline their food distribution process.
A child from a single parent household G. Rajalakshmi, who is studying B.Sc Computer Science in a private college, has two siblings. Her mother was a housekeeper in a company. She hasn’t received her salary yet. Her brother, working in a private transport firm, hasn’t been paid his salary for a month. The family lives on the dry rations supplied by an NGO. Rajalakshmi spends her day on online classes offered by her college.
S. Mancy is also from a single parent household. Her mother works as a help in a household. Ever since the lockdown, she has not been paid. Mancy helps the NGO that supplies the groceries. “We don’t know whether my mother will get paid this month,” said R. Samundeeswari, who is pursuing BE in CSE in a college in Avadi. Her mother works as a tailor in a unit. A bank loan helps her with her tuition fees and for books she relies on the college library. Since the college now offers online classes she uses video lessons and has learned to send her assignments through PDF.
Far away in Theni S.P. Paneer Selvam, the son of a casual labourer, is a student of the Horticulture college and research institute in Periyakulam. He is preparing to face the UPSC exam.
He had set his eyes on medicine. The government college student just about qualified. He then turned to agriculture. Paneer is learning English through Skype from an NGO in Chennai from the laptop the government gave for free. A few days ago his laptop was damaged and he is hoping to get it repaired after the lockdown is lifted. For now he uses his smartphone, he said.