“Nothing grows under a banyan tree,” goes a popular saying since little germination can happen beneath the widespread shade of the tree. But atop the banyan tree, it is a different story as students of Perpanncholai village in Tamil Nadu have discovered.
The wide looping branches of a banyan tree have become their classrooms as they can attend their online classes only from here. “Since the mobile signal at our homes is very erratic, we found that we can get uninterrupted signal only at this location and from this height. We know it is risky but this is the only way we can ensure our attendance,” said Kavitha, a class nine student.
She is among the twenty high school students of Perpanncholai village in Namakkal district who flock to the banyan tree every morning for their online classes. Since her village is located on the foot of Kolli hills, the mobile coverage is patchy. “At least half a dozen villages in this area suffer from poor signal problems affecting the studies of such students. There is a lone BSNL tower for this area and unless more towers are added the future of students could be in jeopardy,” said Nalvinaichelvan, a local activist. He pointed out that students in other villages climbed onto small hillocks in their area to get better mobile signals for their classes. “They even carry their lunch with them,” he said.
Namakkal sub-collector Kottai Kumar admitted that the issue has been brought to his notice and he has sent an official to survey these villages. “We will hold a meeting with telecom companies to improve mobile coverage in the villages along the foot of Kolli hills,” he said. Till then the banyan trees, hillocks, and other treetops will continue to be classrooms for these kids.