Srinagar, Aug 7: With educational institutions being closed for off-line classes amid pandemic, the government of India has revealed that 70 percent school children in J&K don’t have access to digital devices to avail for themselves the online mode of education.
Union Minister of Education, Dharmendra Pradhan in a written reply to a question as to whether the government or any other body under its administrative control bothered to gauge the level of the digital divide in India, stated in lower house of Parliament that over 2.96 crore school students are without digital devices in India.
According to the reply, 70 percent students in Jammu and Kashmir don’t have access to digital devices, which implies that these children don’t have smart phones, laptops to avail online education facilities.
Though the government of India has stated that over 2.96 crore students are without digital devices, when it comes to J&K, the central government has given only a percentage of students without digital access.
According to government data presented in the Lok Sabha, the total of 2.96 crore does not include such students from Delhi (4 per cent) Jammu and Kashmir (70 per cent), Madhya Pradesh (70 per cent), Punjab (42 per cent) and Chhattisgarh (28.27 per cent) as their absolute numbers were not shared.
In terms of absolute numbers, Bihar has the highest number of such students at 1.43 crore, followed by Jharkhand (35.52 lakh), Karnataka (31.31 lakh) and Assam (31.06 lakh). Uttarakhand has 21 lakh such children.
Other states with over 10 lakh children without digital devices are Haryana, Odisha, and Tamil Nadu, while Kerala has 9.5 lakh children in this category.
"Due to the prolonged school closures forced by Covid-19, the teacher and learning process has moved online. States/UTs were advised by vide letter dated 01.02.2021 to conduct surveys of children with access and without access to digital devices," the reply reads.
The issue of digital divide in education has been raised continuously in the past one year, as classes have been online since March 2020.
In J&K since August 2019, educational institutions have remained closed for the majority of the time. Recently the Lieutenant Governor administration extended online mode of teaching, implying that the schools will continue to remain closed for physical mode of education.
However, a shift in teaching mode from in-person classes to virtual mode has led to over dependence of modern gadgetry which according to teachers is out of bounds for the majority of the students who are not able to afford it.