Not many schoolchildren miss out on online learning

Subhash Rajta

Tribune News Service

Shimla, November 19

Not many schoolchildren seem to have missed out on online learning, due to lack of smartphones during the pandemic in the rural Himachal. As per the Annual Status of Education Report (rural), 2021, as many as 95.6 per cent of households it surveyed had access to smartphones in 2021 and 90 per cent had it in 2020. At the national level, the smartphone ownership number stands at 67.6 per cent, much lower as compared to Himachal Pradesh.

Donate a device initiative

We ran an initiative 'Donate a digital device', which evoked a good response. Our deputy directors and principals donated smartphones to needy children. —Amarjeet Sharma, Director, Higher education

With smartphones becoming the primary source of teaching and learning during the pandemic, their ownership and accessibility saw a remarkable jump in the state. From 58 per cent ownership in 2018, the number shot up to an astounding 90 per cent in 2020, and 95.6 per cent this year. "We ran an initiative 'Donate a digital device', which evoked a good response. Also, our deputy directors and principals donated smartphones to the needy children. Such initiatives by the Education Department and the government ensured online learning was affected in the least because of the lack of smartphones," said Amarjeet Sharma, Director, Higher Education.

"There is some connectivity issue in far-flung and urban areas, which hampered online studies. We are talking to service providers to fix this problem as well," he said.

The other parameter that registered a massive jump is the number of children taking private tuitions. The number has almost doubled in the last three years in rural Himachal, from 7.9 per cent in 2018 to 14.7 per cent in 2021. Nationally, the rise has been from 30 per cent to 40 per cent. "This spike is Covid-related. The online classes must have left some parents anxious about the progress their child was making. They probably feel more reassured when the teacher is present physically to teach their child," said Sharma.

As for enrolment in schools, the state continues to do well. The survey found out that 99.4 per cent children are enrolled in schools. At the national level, the proportion of children not enrolled in schools is 4.6 per cent. Also, almost all children in the state have textbooks for their classes.

Even as the survey recorded a shift from private to government schools at the national level, the state appears to have bucked the trend. The state has witnessed a marginal increase in enrolment in government schools from 58.6 per cent in 2018 to 60.9 per cent in 2021. Nationally, the survey recorded a substantial decrease in the enrolment in private schools, from 32.5 per cent in 2018 to 24.4 per cent this year.

Courtesy: Tribune News Service

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