Recently our Union minister Prakash Javadekar said in the Lok Sabha, “No child was deprived of online education during the pandemic as the government had taken several steps in that direction.” Such a statement is nothing but a mere lie when we encounter reality.
A majority of Indian school students do not have the means or privilege for online education. Some face network and technical glitches. Some face electricity problem. The non-availability of gadgets is another problem. Accessible and compulsory education has always been a challenge in India. Right to education is something that is written merely on paper not exist in the real world. The pandemic broadened the pre-existing gap making online education a commodity of sheer privilege. During the lockdown, thousands of students have suffered due to the digital divide. Taking the example of the Indian state with the highest literacy rate, Kerala witnessed numerous cases where students took away their lives due to a lack of accessibility to digital tools. sometimes Internet accessibility act as a hindrance.
the obvious failure of the system and concerned authorities witnessed from the devastating act of suicide by the students. Not just that; for powering devices, access to electricity is crucial for digital education. Some states such as Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have a severe problem with electricity.
In the rural area, the houses received electricity for less than 12 hours a day. most of India’s population lives in villages where only 15% of rural households have access to internet services. Whereas in urban areas, it’s 42%. Moreover, India witnessed a spike in unemployment during the lockdown affecting the livelihood of millions.
Especially compulsion of electronic gadgets for online education became a severe problem as in rural areas subsistence is very difficult. Not every rural person could afford expensive gadgets. In most households with a meager income, eating three meals a day was not guaranteed, purchasing costly internet plans or devices cost them a fortune. From mortgaging assets to cutting off on essential household expenses, families have done it all to make online education a possibility when the government schemes failed to reach the neediest.
Although several NGOs, social groups, and individuals rose to link this digital gap by sponsoring smartphones and laptops, the negligence by the authorities can’t be overlooked. An ordinary Indian citizen expects its government is to at least acknowledge the problem. After all, how will one solve the problem if one does not acknowledge it!
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