Learning without Internet: A student’s experience

By - Aliza Ahsan / Community Student Story

“I just want to say that is it our fault that we are born in places where there is no internet access?”

Hello everyone, I am Aliza from a mountain village in Hunza called Misgar. My parents are farmers and shepherds but they also work jobs to support our education and health. My village borders China and Afghanistan. We have 2 schools upto secondary grades and a small dispensary for health facilities. A year back, I moved to Hunza for my education where I live in a hostel. You all know that everyone is at home nowadays because of the Coronavirus. When cases of corona started showing up schools closed down in Gilgit Baltistan like the rest of Pakistan. Students studying in the cities had to come back to their homes, just like me.

In the start, there weren’t many cases in the hunza region so we were free to go anywhere we wanted but now things are different. In normal times, our village is just like a big family but because of this coronavirus we can no longer freely move in our valleys, meet our friends or our relatives.

From prep class, I studied at the Community Based School in Misgar. I have been a good, hard working student and I have always enjoyed studying but in this situation things are different. In our small mountain village, there is no noise or air pollution. There is no disturbance or traffic but there is also no connection to the outside world. We don’t have mobile access or internet, our only way to communicate to the outside world is a landline phone connection. Every child in my village has to leave home and go to Hunza, Gilgit or even Karachi or Islamabad for education, but that’s alright we are all used to it. In our daily education life, we struggle with any task that requires internet access but it’s okay our teachers manage to teach us and we manage to learn with what we have.

But right now, in coronavirus with schools closed we are facing big problems without internet access. We are supposed to take online classes, download assignments and upload finished assignments online. It is becoming a big problem for us to join these classes because what we need to do to join an online class is go to an area where there is internet access. Daily, we have to wake up early, spend a lot of time to reach an area with the internet, take a class, download assignments and then come back home. Sometimes, I have to stay at relatives’ houses in nearby villages where there is internet to be able to take these classes. Everytime we have an online class, we have to do the same thing. I am always stressed nowadays because in case we miss a class or assignment due to lack of internet access we are marked absent. No one is thinking about how difficult it actually is for us to be able to join a class. It is also a health risk because daily travelling from place to place means we meet different people and can catch the virus.

Even in this difficult time, my parents have paid the full school fee but I am still unable to get access to learning like other students my age in Pakistan. Why? Because I have no access to the internet. Who is responsible to provide me with internet access so i can also have a chance to continue learning? I just want to say that is it our fault that we are born in places where there is no internet access? Please bring an internet connection to us or stop taking online classes.

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