Children in rural areas have limited access to remote learning amidst Covid-19: Survey

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on October 31, 2020

Representative image   -  Reuters

The coronavirus pandemic has necessitated students to take online classes due to the fear of infection.

The recent Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) for Rural India revealed that close to 47.4 per cent of surveyed children had access to smartphones in West Bengal, as per the Indian Express report.

For Jammu Kashmir, it stood at 77.1 per cent. Punjab, Himachal, and Haryana performed fairly with 88 per cent, 90 per cent, and 82.3 per cent respectively. While Kerala topped the chart with 94.3 per cent.

The report was released on Wednesday. It was the first-ever mobile phone survey carried by the autonomous research and assessment unit Pratham Education Foundation.

The survey was conducted in September this year. It intended to explore the reach of education mechanisms and remote learning alternatives for children in rural areas.

ASER 2020 carried out its survey in 26 states and 4 Union Territories, considering 52,227 households and 59,251 children in the age group of 5-16 years,. It surveyed 8963 teachers and principals as well.

No textbooks

The survey further noted that around 20 per cent of children in rural areas had no textbooks to study from.

In Andhra Pradesh, less than 35 per cent of children had textbooks, and only 60 per cent had textbooks in Rajasthan. This is still better in Eastern states as over 98 per cent had textbooks in West Bengal, Nagaland, and Assam.

The survey mentioned that around one in three rural children had done no learning activity at all. About two in three had no learning materials or activity assigned by their school that week when the survey was conducted. While only one in ten had access to live online classes.

This comes despite the levels of smartphone ownership that have grown twofold in India since 2018, The Hindu reported.

Earlier in October, the report collated by the World Bank suggested that the prolonged closure of schools due to the Covid-19 pandemic in India may cause a loss of over $400 billion in the country's future earnings, as per earlier reports.

Published on October 31, 2020

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