Kerala: Girl, 14, couldn't attend online classes, allegedly committed suicide
In a heartbreaking turn of events, a Class 9 student in Kerala allegedly took her life on Monday as she was upset about not being able to attend online classes. The victim, merely 14 years old, burnt herself and her charred body was found about 200 meter away from her home in Valanchery, Malappuram district. Reports said she was a bright student.
Virtual classes started yesterday to save an academic year
Educational institutions have been shut across the nation since March, to ward off risks of coronavirus transmission. Kerala, which has managed to keep infections low, launched online classes via Victers Channel. Reportedly, 30-minute-long classes are broadcast for 4.1 million students of Classes 1-12. At the inauguration, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had said this mechanism will "revolutionize the education system".
TV was broken, girl's family didn't have smartphone
Reportedly, the small TV in the family's home was broken and they didn't have a smartphone either, making it difficult for the deceased to access online classes. Her father, a Dalit farmhand, was rendered jobless after the lockdown, hence, he couldn't get the TV repaired. This helplessness made the girl upset. She went missing around 3:30 pm and a search operation was launched later.
I am going, wrote girl before ending her life
Police recovered a bottle of kerosene from the spot and also a note from her room which read, "I am going." A case of unnatural death was registered. The bereaved father said, "I don't know why she did this. I said we could look at options, like going to a friend's house." Just a few weeks ago, the girl's mother gave birth.
Girl thought her studies would be affected
"The family was financially strained and she was worried she would not be able to study further, or that her studies would be affected. Initial reports suggest she was upset about not having access to TV or online classes since they started," an official said.
Minister sought report, legislator accused government of ill-planning
Subsequently, state Education Minister C Raveendranath sought a report from district officials on the incident. Abid Hussain Thangal, a local legislator, said the government started online classes without thinking it through. "There are at least 20,000 students in Malappuram and Wayanad districts alone who have no access to TV or smartphones. Big publicity to online classes pushed the deprived students to a corner," he alleged.
Reportedly, Rahul Gandhi offered help to underprivileged students
Experts also felt the government took the decision in haste. Educational activist Shajir Khan told HT they had warned the government that 2 lakh students don't have access to smartphones or TVs. Meanwhile, Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi sought a list of families who have no access to TVs and smartphones. The Congress leader plans to help students in the procurement of these essential items.
If you are feeling suicidal, seek help
In case you need help or know someone who needs it, you can reach out to AASRA for suicide prevention counseling. Their number is 022 2754 6669. You can also contact the Hyderabad-based Roshni NGO at +914066202000 or COOJ at +918322252525. Sneha India Foundation which works 24X7 can be contacted at +914424640050. Vandrevala Foundation has trained counselors and their number is 18602662345.