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Source: The Hindu
The UDISE+ shows that many schools have fallen through the net, and they need urgent help to get connected. In this regard, the Centre must take proactive steps to provide internet facilities as an essential service in every school of our country.
- The 2019-20 data of the Unified District Information System for Education Plus (UDISE+) portal shows a stark digital divide in the country.
- The latest data confirm that a mere 22% of schools across the country on average had Internet access, while government institutions fared much worse at 11%.
- On the second metric of functional computer access, the national average was 37% and for government schools, 28.5%.
- Beyond the averages, the range of deficits reflects deep asymmetries. For instance, 87.84% of Kerala schools and 85.69% in Delhi had an Internet facility, compared to 6.46% in Odisha, 10% in West Bengal, and 8.5% in Bihar.
Need of curbing the digital divide:
- The advent of hybrid learning has made it imperative to have computers and a robust internet connection for making the learning process more engaging.
- During 2020-21 (the pandemic year), it became painfully evident that most students had to rely on remote learning.
- Many students faced the double jeopardy of not possessing their own computing devices at home. Their schools remain in the dark without such facilities.
- In remote areas, particularly in the Northeast, many had to travel closer to mobile phone towers to access the Internet on shared phones to get their lessons.
- COVID-19 has compelled all countries to evaluate their hybrid education models. Schools are encouraged to deliver some lessons virtually and rest in offline mode when the virus threat abates.
- In such a multi-layered process, bringing computers and the Internet to all schools cannot be delayed any longer.
- The Centre must explore all options, such as the National Broadband Mission, the BSNL network, and other service providers to connect the schools.
- The upcoming 5G standard with the benefit of high wireless bandwidth may also be able to help bridge the gap quickly.
- Communities, corporates, and hardware makers can use recycling and donation options for improving connectivity.
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