27% of Schoolkids Have No Access to Online Classes: NCERT Survey

Most students who do have access are using smartphones rather than computers, the survey found.

Published
Education
3 min read
Where schools can’t reopen, students above the third grade will be given online classes.
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In a stark reminder of the digital divide, an NCERT survey has found that around 27 percent of school children do not have smartphones or laptops to access online classes, a requirement at a time when schools are physically closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indian Express reports.

The survey, conducted by the National Council of Educational Research (NCERT), uses a sample of 18,188 students from Classes 8-12 from the Centre-run Kendriya Vidyalaya and Navodaya Vidyalaya schools, as well as schools affiliated with the CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education). Around 16,000 teachers, principals and parents were also part of the survey.

Here are the key highlights from the survey.

HOW ARE STUDENTS ACCESSING ONLINE CLASSES?

  • A vast majority of the students with access to online classes are doing so through mobile phones, the NCERT found.
  • Around 84 percent of students said they relied on mobiles to access classes, with only 17 percent saying they had used laptops to access the classes, according to the Indian Express. In the NV schools, meant for gifted students from rural areas, The Hindu reports that it was 88 percent for mobiles and 10 percent for laptops.
  • The government’s attempts to use TV and radio for classes appears to have few takers, with only around 6 percent of students surveyed accessing classes using this method.

WHAT DIFFICULTIES ARE STUDENTS FACING WITH ACCESS TO ONLINE CLASSES?

  • 27 percent of students did not have either laptops or smartphones to access classes.
  • 28 percent of all those surveyed, including teachers, faced problems with internet connectivity and intermittent electricity.
  • Half of the students surveyed didn’t have access to textbooks, according to The Hindu.

HAVE THE ONLINE CLASSES BEEN A SUCCESS?

  • 40 percent of students from the CBSE-affiliated schools surveyed said they found online learning to be difficult or burdensome, though this number was much lower in the NV schools, at 28 percent, according to The Hindu. The average across students is around 33 percent.
  • Among those who have access to online classes, most find them “joyful” or at least “satisfactory”, the Indian Express reports.
  • Mathematics and science were, respectively, the subjects which the students had the most difficulty with online classes, given these subjects involve concepts which require interaction and teacher support.

WILL THESE SURVEY RESULTS LEAD TO ANY CHANGES?

  • Along with the survey results, the Education Ministry has released a set of ‘Students Learning Enhancement Guidelines’ which incorporate these findings.
  • The Guidelines recognise that the situation could be even worse in state-funded schools and poor private schools, in which the vast majority of Indian students study. Unfortunately, only four states have conducted a mapping of the devices available to students for remote classes, The Hindu reports.
  • “Unless the unique requirements of every learner are taken care of, and the same learning experiences are provided to the have-digital-device and have-not-digital-device learners, along with tracking and monitoring of each learner’s progress, the pandemic may result in the beginning of a vast learning gap/divide in such learners” : One of the findings of the Guidelines.
  • On this basis, the Modi government has issued directions to state governments to prepare in-depth plans for how they can ensure all children have access to education during these times. The Hindu also points out that the plans are meant to apply for the whole coming academic session, “indicating that universal school reopening may not be on the cards in the immediate future.”

(With inputs from The Indian Express and The Hindu.)

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