With the pandemic striking India, over 300 million students transitioned from offline schools and colleges to online education or e-learning. Unfortunately, with disparities between rural and urban household’s access to the net. The pandemic has brought forward the ground-level situation of India’s inequality crisis.
The School system in India is one of the largest all over the world. Most Indian children already faced problems such as poverty or food shortages in their day-to-day life. These things stopped children from going to schools and gaining an education. Now with the introduction of online schools, the situation for the underprivileged is dire.
What are the implications of this educational digital divide?
With people no longer having access to Social media, it isolates them from the nation’s latest news and the political environment.
The economic and educational divide
Due to the economic inequality, a rift has been created between students that can afford the internet/smartphones and those who cannot. This means that the already underprivileged are denied further rights to education, and this will hamper their growth. Essential services such as telemarketing, online banking are unavailable for students living away from homes without cell coverage or means to buy a cellphone.
More than one phone required per house
Before the pandemic for below-average income households, usually, only the head of the house would carry a smartphone for work purposes. With education shifting to online classes via phones, many parents didn’t have the means to buy different phones for all their children. Some were even pushed to the point of selling household commodities to afford a phone for their child’s education. No parent should ever have to make that decision.
In India, 21% female population has access to the internet while 42% of males. This is again a divide for students as the girl child’s education will never be prioritized over the boy’s. Girls in rural households also have the added pressure of domestic work, which disturbs their educational prospects. Even when the whole world is suffering, girls are still being denied rights even more than boys.
Uttarakhand has the second-highest urban population with access to the internet, which is at 64%. The highest is in Himachal Pradesh with 70%. Only 23.8% of Indians have internet access. Compared to India’s student population, this is a shocking and mind-numbing statistic.
For India’s fast growth as an economic superpower, implementing at-home study technologies and access to fast internet is of paramount importance. However, this won’t be possible until the class-related bias and inequalities are addressed first. Until each child in India has equal access to online educational institutions and a chance to grow and learn, the dream of India emerging as a superpower will never come to be.