The fifteenth Annual status of education report (ASER) 2020 has shed light on the digital divide prevailing in the country, and has urged the government to find remedies to prevent learning loss in the students.
Schools were closed in March because of the global pandemic, followed by lockdown across the country. Students have been receiving classes online. According to the survey, about 20 per cent of the students from the rural region have no textbooks and in a week of September, it was found that about one-third of the rural area students have done no learning activity and about two-thirds of them had no access to it.
As per the survey, 5.3 per cent of children aged 6-10 from the rural regions have not been enrolled in schools this year. Of the 70 per cent of students who did any learning activity, only 11 per cent had any access to online classes; majority had recorded classes.
As children remain home, the resources from home are vital. Children of illiterate parents, which span up to 40 per cent of the total parent community, had no education at all and had received no learning materials compared to the children of the highly educated ones. In most of the households, elder siblings play an important role in the education of the younger ones. Although there had been a spike in smartphone availability, this has not removed the learning loss of the children. This shows that technology alone cannot be the problem.
ASER has been providing reliable estimates of children's education since 2005. ASER 2020 was conducted in 26 states and 4 Union Territories. It reached 52,227 households and 59,251 children in the age group of 5-16 years, as well as teachers or head teachers from 8,963 government schools offering primary grade.
"When schools re-open, it will be important to continue to monitor who goes back to school, and very important to understand whether there is learning loss as compared to previous years," said ASER.