'Rise in School Dropouts': Online Education in Rural India

·2-min read

Video Producer: Maushumee Singh and Shohini Bose

Video Editor: Ashutosh Bharadwaj

A recent survey – School Children's Online and Offline Learning (SCHOOL) – of nearly 1,400 underprivileged school children in rural India, has revealed shocking details, as a result of prolonged school closure and online studies, since the outbreak of the COVID pandemic. The survey was conducted to study the impact of lockdown on the education system, especially in Rural India.

Economist, social scientist, and activist Jean Drèze, who was part of the team conducting the survey, spoke to The Quint on the reality on the ground, the big challenges, and alternatives.

According to Drèze, closing of schools severely impacted literacy rate, health and well-bring of children especially from the rural parts of India. This is also because in these parts, only eight percent of children have access to online education.

Some of the major challenges that plague online education in rural India include a lack of access to smartphones and internet connections. While 36 percent of children don't have access to a smartphone, nine per cent don't have access to an internet connection.

Six per cent can't afford a data pack, and among those who can, 10 percent of them find it difficult to follow what is being taught online. Meanwhile, the survery also concluded that 43 percent of schools did not send study materials, and thus close to 48 percent of children cannot read beyond a few words, and to read and write.

This has ultimately resulted children forgetting their lessons and finally a rise in the number of school dropputs in the area. 97 percent of parents want schools to re-open so that children can attend physical classes and have access to a proper education.

While opening schools is certainly the easiest and the most effective solution. However, there's no surety about school's reopening in states like Jharkhand which sees a stark rise is COVID cases especially in the rural areas. There, a secondary solution can be home-tutoring.

Also Read: Only 8% Kids Have Internet Access in Rural India: COVID Exposes Digital Divide

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