Digital Divide- Education Ministry Report

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According to data collected from 24 states and Union Territories (UTs) until June, 29 million school students do not have access to digital devices, according to a report released by the Union education ministry on Wednesday. Between 40% and 70% of school-aged children in seven large states – Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttarakhand – do not have access to digital devices.

Read: PM Cares for Childrens Scheme

Report Highlights 

The report, School Education Sector Initiatives in 2020-21, shows 

  • The digital divide has adversely impacted some states, while others may have fared well due to the widespread availability of smartphones and television sets. However, the picture is incomplete due to the lack of data from states like Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, as well as dubious claims like Rajasthan's that it has no students without access to the internet.
  • The state-level efforts to close the gap reflect the same imbalance, with some states, such as Tamil Nadu, claiming to have distributed 5.15 lakh computers to students, compared to the Bihar government's distribution of 42 mobile phones.

State Wise Data 

Andhra Pradesh: 
  • In May 2021, the state assessed 29.34 lakh pupils out of a total of 81.36 lakh students and discovered that 2,01,568 students do not have smartphone access.
  •  About10.22 lakh parents have phones that can only make calls, and 4.57 lakh kids have phones with no mobile data. I
  • It was discovered that 3.88 lakh students do not have access to television. 
  • About 5,752 students have laptop computers. So far, the state has provided 2,850 laptops and 18,270 tablets, and a toll-free number is in the works.
  • The state, which has 2.46 million students, revealed that 1.43 million of them do not have access to digital gadgets. 
  • In terms of actions to close the gap, it has provided cellphones to 42 pupils and plans to supply tablets to 250 schools. 
  • Mobile vans equipped with TV, films, math games, and toys were deployed across seven districts with UNICEF aid, with a special focus on Mahadalit/Mushahar areas.
  • According to a UNICEF assessment of 12,000 schools, 40% of kids do not have access to smartphones or the Internet. 
  • The state has 1.14 million students spread throughout 54,629 schools. 
  • The state government disseminated blended learning materials and established an IVRS helpdesk to bridge the gap. 
  • Students received approximately 11,200 devices, while teachers received 40,000.
  • 32.52 lakh kids out of 74.89 lakh do not have digital access. In 2018-19, the state notified the Centre that tablets were distributed to schools and cluster resource centers. 
  • Because the number of Android phones in rural tribal-dominated villages is "extremely low," the state collaborated with UNICEF to produce home-based learning modules and established mohalla schools in remote places.
Madhya Pradesh:
  • According to a survey conducted by the state's education department, 70 percent of the state's 1.57 crore students do not have access to smartphones. 
  • According to the April 2021 survey, 53 lakh people have access to televisions and 57 lakh have access to radios. 
  • Mohalla classes and regular teacher-parent phone conversations are two of the strategies listed. Following the countrywide lockdown, a radio school program was also created.
  • Out of 23.39 lakh schoolchildren in the state, 5.20 lakh do not have access to digital gadgets for online learning, according to state officials. 
It plans to give out over 35,000 e-books to kids in public schools. In five districts, the state tried community outreach to stay in touch with such students, distributing worksheets and enlisting the support of community radio.

    How is this report prepared?
    1. The report, which was released on Wednesday, was compiled using data from 22 of the 28 states and seven of the eight Union Territories. 
    2. In real numbers, based on surveys of various sample sizes conducted by states and UTs in 2020 and 2021, 29 crore pupils were found to be without access to digital devices, including 14.33 crore in Bihar.

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