Dept. clarifies as news about a govt.-funded gadget distribution scheme for students is widely circulated over social media
For days together, the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe development offices across the State were bombarded with enquiries over a non-existent scheme providing free gadgets for students belonging to those communities to help them with their online education.
It was apparently triggered by a fake news widely circulated over social media. It emerged that a message about an initiative restricted to Palakkad by the MLA concerned was tweaked, either deliberately or inadvertently, to give the impression that it was a State-wide programme funded by the government.
As it reached a point where it appeared that the potential beneficiaries may risk coming to the offices braving lockdown restrictions, the department on Tuesday issued a circular asking people not to fall for it.
“Not just our offices but even school authorities were receiving calls for documents to help them avail of the bogus scheme. If the department announces any such programme, it will be properly communicated,” said Sandhya K., Scheduled Caste Development Officer, Ernakulam.
In fact, it was the second such recent instance. Earlier, a message was circulated about the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Development Department distributing ₹5,000 as COVID-19 assistance.
Meanwhile, students belonging to SC/ST communities continue to complain of digital divide hampering their education. “Undergraduate or postgraduate students from the SC/ST communities are not getting any help to bridge that digital divide. Even the limited help is being restricted to select courses and that too after ensuring that students are into their second year. Any assistance should be universal,” said Mary Lydia, volunteer coordinator of Adishakthi, a collective set up under the aegis of the Adivasi Gothra Mahasabha in 2015 for facilitating educational empowerment and skill development of tribal students. She added that dropout rate had surged among the students from the communities since the outbreak of the pandemic.
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