According to data presented in parliament on Aug. 2 by the Indian ministry of education, about 30 million youngsters do not have a digital device with which to access online education. According to these figures, which were prepared by the states as part of a study conducted on February 1, roughly 14 million youngsters in the eastern state of Bihar did not have access to a computer, tablet, or smartphone.
The ministry revealed that over 28% of children in the state of Chhattisgarh lacked the necessary technology. For the union territory of Jammu & Kashmir, this number increased to 70%. Only Rajasthan, one of India’s most populous states, declared that no youngster was without a digital gadget.
Schools in India have remained closed for the most part since March 2020, with only high school classes opening temporarily last year, and certain areas, such as Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, have only recently begun to allow in-person classes with restrictions.
No access to online education
The concern today is that students who have been out of physical school for several months and have had no access to online education will eventually drop out of school. Children in Latehar, a hamlet deep within Jharkhand’s eastern state, are rapidly losing even basic literacy abilities.
“Primary schooling has come to a halt as the hamlet has been closed for the past 16 months,” according to a ground-level survey conducted by Road Scholars, a group of freelance researchers and student volunteers engaged in action-oriented research. “The majority of the children are just hanging around, while some are working in the fields,” according to the report.
This is an especially concerning tendency in areas populated by marginalized populations such as Dalits and Adivasis (tribals). While many families are motivated to send their children to school, the cost of doing so—in terms of losing a working hand in the field, for example—is often a barrier.
Mid-day meals suffered a significant setback
In the lack of physical schools, mid-day meals suffered a significant setback, putting students in danger of malnutrition. While the federal government authorized states to supply mid-day meals directly to students—either as freshly prepared meals or cooking ingredients such as grain and oil—the implementation has been abysmal.
India now ranks 94th out of 107 countries on the Global Hunger Index (GHI), and with significantly rising poverty and unemployment, its rating is expected to fall even more. According to the Global Hunger Index (GHI), a peer-reviewed annual assessment produced jointly by Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe, roughly a third of India’s children under the age of five suffer from stunting, a typical indicator of extreme malnutrition.
“While child stunting has decreased significantly from 54.2 percent in 2000 to 34.7 percent in 2020,” the comment on India’s GHI ranking states, “it is still regarded very high.” According to the most recent data, India has the highest child wasting rate of any of the GHI countries, at 17.3 percent. ” The phrase “wasted” refers to children who have an abnormally low body weight, which can also be used as an early warning of child death.
(News input – Quartz India)