BETWEEN 40% and 70% school-going children in seven large states – Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand – do not have access to digital devices, according to a report prepared by the Union Ministry of Education that documents the response to challenges thrown up by the Covid pandemic.
The report, Initiatives by the School Education Sector in 2020-21, shows that the digital divide has hit some states disproportionately hard, while a few may have coped well due to adequate availability of smartphones and television sets. However, the picture remains incomplete in the absence of data from states such as Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, and questionable claims like that of Rajasthan that it does not have students without digital access.
The report, which was made public on Wednesday, has been prepared based on data shared by 22 of 28 states, and seven out of eight Union Territories. The state-wise interventions to bridge the divide also reflect the same disparity – with some like Tamil Nadu claiming to have distributed 5.15 lakh laptops among students, as against 42 mobile phones by the Bihar government.