According to a recent national sample study conducted by ICRIER and LIRNEAsia, a think tank focused on digital policy, just 20% of school-aged children in India had access to remote education during the pandemic, with barely half participating in live online sessions. In fact, COVID-19 caused at least one kid to drop out of school, according to 38% of families.
The survey, released on Friday, indicated that although digital connection increased by 40% during the pandemic, most children were unable to benefit due to a lack of devices, poor signal, and high prices. The face-to-face study, which took place between March and August this year, included 7000 families from around the country. Kerala was the only state to be excluded due to high COVID-19 cases.
It was discovered that 80 percent of children aged 5 to 18 years who were enrolled in schools previous to the pandemic received no educational services at all during the school shutdown. The situation was substantially worse among people from lower socioeconomic groups and rural homes, where the head of the family had a lower degree of education.
Only 55% of those who received education had access to live online sessions, while 68% had access to audio or video lectures that had been recorded. Work was provided to three-quarters of the students by smartphone, primarily through Whatsapp, and 61 percent via text messages. Almost 70% of students had phone communication with their teachers, and 58% had work delivered to their homes. About half of the kids were also told to listen to educational tv and radio programs.
Despite the fact that 64% of homes with school-aged children had internet connectivity, only 31% of them got remote education, due to a shortage of devices or larger screen devices. However, the situation was far worse for individuals without internet access, with just 8% obtaining remote education. The major challenges, according to respondents, are a lack of devices, a poor 3G/4G signal, and expensive data costs. Even among those who get distant education, a third of families said that schools were not equipped to provide online education.
Despite increased digital connectivity, such difficulties persisted. In 2020-21, over 13 crore individuals went online, bringing the total number of internet users in the nation to over 47 crore. COVID-19-related reasons were cited by 43% of the 8 crore people who went online in 2020. Overall, internet use has increased from 19% of people over the age of 15 in 2017 to 47% this year.
Laptops were used by just 5% of homes, while desktop computers were used by 4%. Smartphones, which were accessible in 68% of homes, were used by the great majority.
“The advantages of growing digitization have been unevenly distributed throughout the globe and among the people. Lower-income populations and lagging areas would need governmental assistance, according to Rajat Kathuria, a senior visiting professor at ICRIER and one of the report’s primary authors, who recommends an emphasis on infrastructure availability and relevant vernacular material. “The road to digital inclusion must include a broad definition of access that goes beyond building fibre and offering low-cost smartphones – the latter is vital, but not sufficient.”
Source: The Hindu