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What is the news?
The report, “Initiatives by the School Education Sector in 2020-21“, released by the Union Ministry of Education talks about the response to challenges thrown up by the Covid-19 pandemic.
What are the key findings of the report?
The report shows that 40% to 70% of school-going children in seven large states do not have access to digital devices. These states are– Assam (44.24%), Andhra Pradesh (57%), Bihar (58.09%), Gujarat (40%), Jharkhand (43.42%), Madhya Pradesh (70%) and Uttarakhand (41.17%).
In absolute numbers, prepared on the basis of surveys of various sample sizes by the states and UTs in 2020 and 2021, 29 crore students, including 14.33 crore in Bihar, were found without access to digital devices.
The digital divide has hit some states disproportionately hard, while a few may have coped well due to the adequate availability of smartphones and television sets.
Among the better-placed states and UTs are Delhi with around 4% students without access, Kerala 1.63%, Tamil Nadu 14.51%.
What is the significance of the report?
Report once again spotlights the grim reality of differential access to education, made starker by the pandemic-induced disruption and the consequential digital divide.
The official figures also validate the concerns expressed by non-profits working in the education sector.
The report also highlights the interventions at various levels to bridge the divide, but those interventions did not emphasise enough on the need to scale up the efforts.
What are the challenges associated with the report?
There are questionable claims like that of Rajasthan that it does not have students without digital access.
The true picture remains incomplete in the absence of data from states such as Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
Source: This post is based on the article “Education Ministry report: At least 40% school children in 7 large states lack access to digital devices” published in ‘Indian Express’ on 08 October 2021.