Only 24 percent of Indian households have internet connections to access e-education, and there is a large country, city, and gender gap that is likely to widen the learning gap between high, middle and low income families, according to a new UNICEF report .
The report on the accessibility of distance learning, released by UNICEF on Thursday, raised concerns about children from economically disadvantaged families struggling with access to distance learning.
“Available data shows that around a quarter of households (24 percent) in India have access to the internet and there is a large gap between country, city and gender. The learning gap is likely to widen in high, middle and low income families as children from economically disadvantaged families do not have access to distance learning, ”it said.
The report goes on to say that students, especially girls, from most marginalized communities do not have easy access to smartphones, and even when they do, internet connectivity is poor and quality educational content is often not available in native languages.
“In India, more than 1.5 million (15 lakh) schools were closed because of the pandemic, which affected 286 million (28.6 crore) children from preschool to secondary school (49 percent of whom were girls). This adds to the 6 million (60 lakh) girls and boys who had left school before the COVID-19, ”the report said.
UNICEF noted that the center and state governments have taken several initiatives through digital and non-digital platforms to promote continuity of home learning, and called for multiple outreach avenues and strategies to increase children’s access and use of learning materials / Students improve, especially in reaching the unequaled because of the digital divide.
UNICEF India representative Yasmin Ali Haque called for mixed approaches involving communities, parents and volunteers to reach children and support their learning during these times.
“We know that in every crisis the young and most vulnerable people suffer disproportionately. Schools are closed, parents are unemployed and families are increasingly burdened. Education and learning have been disrupted for an entire generation of children, ”said Haque.
“Access to digital education is limited and alone cannot close the learning gap. These times require mixed approaches involving communities, parents and volunteers to reach children and support their learning, ”she said. At least a third of the world’s school children – 46.3 million children worldwide – had no access to distance learning when COVID-19 closed their schools. This emerges from the new UNICEF report released as countries around the world struggled with “going back to school”. Plans.
The report uses a globally representative analysis of the availability of home technology and tools required for distance learning among preschool, elementary, lower and upper secondary students, using data from 100 countries. The data includes access to television, radio and internet, as well as the availability of curricula that are made available on these platforms during school closings.
Although the figures in the report paint a worrying picture of the lack of distance learning during school closings, UNICEF warns that the situation is likely to be far worse.
“Even with the technology and tools at home, children may not be able to learn remotely through these platforms due to competing factors such as pressures to get things done, forced to work, poor learning environments and opportunities to learn at home Support in using the online or broadcast curriculum, ”it says.
UNICEF urged governments to give priority to the safe reopening of schools if they begin to relax lockdown restrictions.
If reopening is not possible, UNICEF urged governments to include compensatory learning for lost class time in their plans for school continuity and reopening.
“School opening policies and practices must include expanding access to education, including distance learning, especially for marginalized groups. Education systems also need to be adapted and built to withstand future crises, ”the report says.