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Physical classes in Kolkata schools bring data-cost relief to parents

Many struggled to buy their children a smartphone, which became a must following the rollout of online classes in the summer of 2020

Subhankar Chowdhury | Published 03.02.22, 08:24 AM
Representational image.

Representational image.

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A large number of parents are relieved that their children are finally going back to school because that will spare them the burden of buying expensive data packs for online classes.

The parents, whose children study mostly in government and government-aided schools, said the expenses incurred on data packs over the past two years had further stretched their already stretched resources.

Many struggled to buy their children a smartphone, which became a must following the rollout of online classes in the summer of 2020. The recurring monthly cost of data packs bruised them further.

Data packs have become more expensive in the past couple of months across service providers.

Amid this difficulty, the resumption of in-person classes for students of classes VIII to XII from Thursday, as announced by the state government, has come as a boon for many.

Saraswati Mondal, whose son Krishnendu studies in Class X at Sanskrit Collegiate School in central Kolkata, said she was “relieved”. Her husband is a security guard.

“The 1.5GB data pack of Vodafone till November cost us Rs 249 a month. Since December, the cost has shot up to Rs 300 a month. For a family like ours, this only adds to our financial constraints,” she said.

This newspaper had reported on November 24 that Vodafone Idea announced a hike in prepaid tariff, a day after rival Bharti Airtel jacked up rates.

India’s No. 3 telecom player said it would increase mobile call and data tariff across plans by 18 to 25 per cent for prepaid customers from November 25.

Mondal, a homemaker, said they had somehow managed to buy Krishnendu a smartphone because classes were only held on the digital platform during the pandemic.

“I hope the offline classes continue,” she said.

Suparna Dey, whose son Arpan is a student of Class IX at Sanskrit Collegiate School, said they were looking forward to the resumption of in-person classes.

“We use data packs of Reliance. The 1GB pack that we would buy for Rs 149 a month now costs Rs 179. Now, we can save that cost. During the pandemic, we try to save every paisa possible,” said Dey, a homemaker.

Arpan’s father works in a private firm. Jobs in private firms are insecure.

Debabarata Mukherjee, headmaster of Sanskrit Collegiate School, said: “Offline classes will be beneficial for those who are finding it difficult to afford the rising cost of data packs.”

Unlike previous reopenings, he said, this time they are calling all students of the five classes from Wednesday. On the earlier occasions, students with odd and even roll numbers were called on alternate days.

“We are staggering the time of entry,” he said.

Satyabati Nadkar, headmistress of Chetla Girls’ High School, said: “A number of our students are from underprivileged backgrounds. For them, the cost of online classes was posing a challenge.”

Last updated on 03.02.22, 08:26 AM
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