Mumbai

Only 20% ZP school students have access to internet: study

Reduced reach: The State-wide digital access survey was conducted by the Active Teachers Forum and covered 1,67,687 students across 1,186 schools.

Reduced reach: The State-wide digital access survey was conducted by the Active Teachers Forum and covered 1,67,687 students across 1,186 schools.  

State government keen on promoting online education among students in rural areas

With the lockdown likely to extend beyond June and delay the start of the new academic year, the State government is trying to promote online education among students across Maharashtra.

However, a recent study has revealed that only 37% of students in zilla parishad schools have access to smartphones and 20% of them have internet connectivity.

The State-wide digital access survey was conducted by the Active Teachers Forum and covered 1,67,687 students across 1,186 schools. The study found that only 45% of parents of students had smartphones and only 27% of them had access to internet. The schools which were part of the survey included those run by zilla parishads, municipal councils, municipal corporations, private-aided and private unaided institutions.

Call for foolproof plan

On Monday, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray held a meeting with the Education Department and directed officials to prepare a foolproof plan to ensure that the schedule for the academic year stays on track even if schools cannot be reopened soon.

Mr. Thackeray also directed the officials to consider options such as online schooling and using the digital medium to teach lessons. He informed officials about the lack of internet connectivity in rural areas and asked them to start working on increasing access.

ATF convener Bhausaheb Chaskar told The Hindu that State government’s attempts to provide study material to students during the summer vacation is based on the assumption that they have access to smartphones with internet facility.

‘The ground reality’

Mr. Chaskar said, “We wanted to check the ground reality and find out exactly how many students in Maharashtra have the facilities to pursue studies online. The survey was also conducted to receive necessary inputs from schools and students on the way ahead in the State in case the lockdown continues after June and schools remain closed.”

According to the survey, of 97,794 students in 1,054 zilla parishad schools, 52,558 have television sets and 3,469 have laptops or desktops. The parents of 68,050 students have cell phones, while 2,108 students have their own cell phones. Though the parents of 36,300 students have smartphones, only 20,422 of them have internet access.

In private-aided schools, of 43,312 students, 22,860 have access to smartphones and 35% of them have internet connectivity. In private unaided schools, 42% parents of students have smartphones with internet access.

Mr. Chaskar said, “Considering the present financial situation, it is difficult to anticipate a growth in the number of smartphones in rural areas. Instead of smartphones, television or radio will a better medium to educate students.”

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Printable version | May 31, 2020 9:13:55 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/only-20-zp-school-students-have-access-to-internet-study/article31636598.ece

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