Data

Data | Only 8% of children in rural areas studied online regularly in August

Vidyagama programme was started for students of rural and semi-urban areas who have no access to online education.  

Physical classes have been suspended in schools in India for over 1.5 years now. While some students were able to study online, learning remained inaccessible for most. Two surveys — School Children’s Online and Offline Learning (SCHOOL) and Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) — evaluated the impact of the pandemic on learning outcomes. In August 2021, only 8% of children in rural areas and 25% of children in urban areas studied online regularly. Even those who were online found it difficult to follow the curriculum and had connectivity issues. As a result, the % of children who could read and perform calculations declined from pre-pandemic levels.

In March 2021, ASER conducted a study in 24 rural districts of Karnataka to estimate the learning loss and understand current status of learning. Nearly 18,000 children between the age group of 3 to 16 were assessed for their reading and arithmetic skills.

The SCHOOL survey covered nearly 1,400 underprivileged children in August this year across 15 States and UTs. The survey focused on children in rural hamlets and urban 'bastis' who generally attend govt. schools. About 60% of the sample resided in rural areas and close to 60% belonged to Dalit and Adivasi communities.

Many not in class

Only 28% of rural children studied regularly while 37% didn't study at all. Of those who were able to study, only 8% regularly attended online classes or learned through videos. In urban areas, the share of students who studied regularly was slightly better at 47% (though only 25% could study through online classes) while 19% of them did not study at all.

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Educating children through television has not taken off despite regular educational broadcasts on Doordashan. Those who could afford private tuitions studied more regularly.

Learning roadblocks

The major problems for children who didn't study online regularly were the lack of online material or the unavailability of a device. As many as 43% of parents in rural areas said no online material was sent by the school, while 36% said their children did not have their own smartphone. Among those children who studied online, the majority of them said that they faced connectivity issues and found online classes difficult to follow.

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Learning loss

There was loss of learning, especially for children enrolled in government schools, as schools closed and reliance on online learning increased. According to the latest report by ASER in rural Karnataka, the share of Class 5 students enrolled in government schools who could read Class 2-level texts came down from 47.6% in 2018 to 32.8% in 2020. Similarly, the share of such students who could do subtraction decreased from 52.5% in the same period.

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