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Indian schools and access to Internet in 2019-20

Context:

Education Ministry recently released data in the Unified District Information System for Education Plus (UDISE+) report regarding presence of Internet facilities in schools in India when online education was the need of the hour for education during the pandemic.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice (Issues related to education, Human resources – issues in development & management)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Highlights of the UDISE+ report
  2. National Statistical Organisation (NSO) survey reports
  3. Other data regarding Inequality in Online education

Highlights of the UDISE+ report

  • The Unified District Information System for Education Plus (UDISE+) report shows that only 22% of schools in India had Internet facilities and among government schools, less than 12% had Internet in 2019-20, while less than 30% had functional computer facilities.
  • In many Union Territories, as well as in the State of Kerala, more than 90% of schools, both government and private, had access to working computers.
  • In States such as Chhattisgarh (83%) and Jharkhand (73%), installation of computer facilities in most government schools paid off, while in others such as Tamil Nadu (77%), Gujarat (74%) and Maharashtra (71%), private schools had higher levels of computer availability than in government schools.
  • However, in States such as Assam (13%), Madhya Pradesh (13%), Bihar (14%), West Bengal (14%), Tripura (15%) and Uttar Pradesh (18%), less than one in five schools had working computers. The situation is worse in government schools, with less than 5% of U.P.’s government schools having the facility.
  • The connectivity divide is even starker. Only three States — Kerala (88%), Delhi (86%) and Gujarat (71%) — have Internet facilities in more than half their schools.

National Statistical Organisation (NSO) survey reports

  • A recent report on the latest National Statistical Organisation (NSO) survey shows just how stark is the digital divide across States, cities and villages, and income groups.
  • Across India, only one in ten households have a computer — whether a desktop, laptop or tablet.
  • However, almost a quarter of all homes have Internet facilities, accessed via a fixed or mobile network using any device, including smartphones.
  • Most of these Internet-enabled homes are located in cities, where 42% have Internet access.
  • In rural India, however, only 15% are connected to the internet.
  • The biggest divide is by economic status, which the NSO marks by dividing the population into five equal groups, or quintiles, based on their usual monthly per capita expenditure.

How the states fared?

  • The national capital has the highest Internet access, with 55% of homes having such facilities.
  • Himachal Pradesh and Kerala are the only other States where more than half of all households have Internet.
  • At the other end of the spectrum is Odisha, where only one in ten homes have Internet.
  • There are ten other States with less than 20% Internet penetration, including States with software hubs such as Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
  • Kerala shows the least inequality: more than 39% of the poorest rural homes have Internet, in comparison to 67% of the richest urban homes.
  • Assam shows the starkest inequality, with almost 80% of the richest urban homes having the Internet access denied to 94% of those in the poorest rural homes in the State.

Other data regarding Inequality in Online education

  • Three-fourths of students in India did not have access to the internet at home, according to a 2017-18 all-India NSO survey.
  • The share of those who did not have computers, including devices such as palm-tops and tablets, was much greater ~90%.
  • Access to these facilities was higher among students at higher levels of education. But even at the highest levels, a large share of students did not have access to these facilities. As expected, access to the internet and computers is directly related to household incomes.
  • Lack of access to the internet and devices has also created a gap in digital literacy.
  • As many as 76% of students in India in the 5-35 age group did not know how to use a computer.
  • The share of those who did not know how to use the internet was 74.5%. Once again, this gap rises with a fall in income levels.
  • 55% of students among the top 20% of households by monthly per capita expenditure (MPCE) knew how to use a computer and internet while these proportions were only 9% and 10% among the bottom 20%.

-Source: The Hindu

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August 2022
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