29 million students don’t have access to devices: Govt report
According to the data, as many as 29.6 million students from 19 states and five UTs were found to be without digital devices during the surveys conducted by these states and UTs.
A report released by Union education ministry on Wednesday said that 29 million school students do not have access to digital devices as per data collected from 24 states and Union Territories (UTs) until June -- data that highlights the extent to which these students have been disadvantaged over the past year-and-half when almost all education has been online in the shadow of the Covid pandemic.
It is only now that some states have reopened schools, and that too only for some classes. The data from the ministry is the first official statistic on the digital divide. Anecdotal evidence suggests that many children from poor families have suffered as a result, with some dropping out.
According to the data, which is a part of a report titled ”Iinitiatives by school education sector in 2020-21 for continuing teaching and learning”, released on Wednesday, as many as 29.6 million students from 19 states and five UTs were found to be without digital devices during the surveys conducted by these states and UTs.
The numbers could be higher. Seven states and UTs, including densely populated Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, have not submitted the data , the report stated.
Of the 29 million, 14 million are from Bihar, with the number translating into 58% of total students in the state. This is followed by 3.2 million from Jharkhand, which is 43% of total student strength in the state; 3.1 million from Karnataka, 27% of the total strength of students in the state; 3.1 million from Assam, 44% ofstudents in the state; and 1.75 million from Tamil Nadu, which is 14.5% of total student strength in the state.
In addition to the 24 states and UTs, fivestates and UTs have submitted their data in percentage terms. Among those are Delhi (4% of total student strength), Chhattisgarh (28.27% of total student strength), Madhya Pradesh (70% of total student strength), Jammu and Kashmir (70% of total student strength) and Punjab (42.85% of total student strength).
The ministry has also collected data from Central government run Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs) and Navodaya Vidyalayas on the number of students without access to digital devices during the year 2020-21. As per the data, 7.47% of total 2,58,254 students enrolled in 661 Navodaya schools do not have access to digital devices. The percentage is better in KVs where only 2% of students do not have access to digital devices.
The report also highlighted the efforts taken by the Central government and the states/ UTs to reach out to students during the closure of schools, with messaging platform WhatsApp emerging the most used across states for sharing study material. For students without digital access, the states and UTs took several initiatives such as door to door visits by teachers to distribute study material, mohalla classes, and mobile schools. .
As many as 4.62 million devices were distributed among students by several states and UTs, the report stated.
The report also highlighted that after Centre’s intervention as many as 3,50,021 “out of school students” have been identified at elementary level and 1,04,650 at the secondary level across the states and UTs and will now be induced to the mainstream education.