Mumbai: 29 Dharavi school students' struggle to attend classes ends

Updated: 16 October, 2020 07:29 IST | Gaurav Sarkar | Mumbai

Following this paper's report about children from underprivileged families struggling to keep up with daily lessons in the absence of a smartphone, donations pour in and kids get brand-new phones

Parvez Damania (centre) and students with their smartphones pose for a photo, at the Banyan Tree School, Dharavi. Pic/ Pradeep Dhivar
Parvez Damania (centre) and students with their smartphones pose for a photo, at the Banyan Tree School, Dharavi. Pic/ Pradeep Dhivar

TWO months after mid-day reported about the struggle of students of a Dharavi school in shifting to the online schooling mode in absence of a smartphone, 29 received brand new mobile phones, thanks to generous donations to the institution.

mid-day had reported that about 60 per cent of the students, who receive free educationat the Banyan Tree English School near Matunga Labour Camp, were unable to attend online classes as they did not have a smartphone. The school has a strength of approximately 543 pupils from underprivileged families.

Rs 1.5 lakh donation

The school raised Rs 1,50,000 in the past two months, and distributed brand-new Samsung M3 smartphones to 24 of the 29 students in a small ceremony on the campus.

The five others received their smart devices earlier, after a donor sent Rs 50,000 to the school on September 6. "We used this money to buy five new smartphones for our students," said Parvez Damania, founder and chairman of Damania Airways and president of the Banyan Tree Centre.

10 phones were donated

"Later, we received Rs 1 lakh more in donation — Rs 75,000 from Sunil Devnani, one of the members of my CEO forum and Rs 25,000 from his son. Devnani suggested I get in touch with Anil Jagasia, whose firm Savex Technology is a distributor for Samsung mobiles. We bought 14 Samsung M3 mobiles from Savex from the Rs 1 lakh donation, and Jagasia donated 10 more mobiles out of goodwill. We are very thankful for the generosity of Mr Jagasia and Mr Devnani."

The school also received about four-five used mobile phones over the past two months, but they were not in good condition, said Damania. "These phones will be a great help to the students whose education was suffering very badly… Now, at least they will be up to speed with their classes," said Damania. "The children were very happy to receive the phones." He added that Varsha Gaikwad, the state School Education minister and the MLA from Dharavi, was expected to attend Thursday's event, but could not make it due to some unforeseen emergency.

Many more need help

Asked about the process for determining which students received the phones, Damania said, "We selected the children who came from very poor financial backgrounds."

However, the challenge for the school is far from over, as only 29 of the 60 per cent students without smartphones are now equipped with the device needed to resume their schooling. It will still be an uphill task to provide the devices for the remaining students.

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First Published: 16 October, 2020 07:06 IST

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