Survey: 37% of poor rural students are not studying at all – Times of India

MUMBAI: Prolonged school closures since the onset of the epidemic have had “catastrophic consequences” for children’s education, according to a new survey of 1,362 schoolgirls from disadvantaged households in 15 states and union territories.

The study found that in rural areas, 37% of sample students are not studying at all – this is 19% in urban areas – and only 8% are studying online regularly. 48% of the rural children surveyed were unable to read more than a few words.

About 5% of the parents of children whose children were studying online felt that their ability to read and write had decreased since the lockdown began.

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The survey found that marginalized populations were the most affected. For example, only 4% of children from rural Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes were studying online compared to 15% of other rural children.

The online and offline education (school) survey of school children was conducted this August in 15 states and union territories, including Maharashtra, UP, West Bengal and Karnataka. It was a joint effort of about 100 volunteers across the country, the survey report was prepared by a team including economist Jean Dredge and Ritika Khera. The sample was taken from deprived villages and slums where most children attend government schools.

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The study not only highlighted the serious limitations of online education in developing countries like India, but also re-established the need to return to school offline. The digital divide is hitting real and low-income groups hard.

The survey revealed a complete digital divide, which created limitations for online learning. Only 51% of the rural households surveyed had a smartphone. Even in homes with smartphones, though, 15% of children in urban and rural areas study online regularly. One major reason was children’s access to smartphones, which are often used by functional adults. The survey found that only 12% of rural children surveyed have their own smartphone.

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Other problems with online access are poor connectivity and lack of money for “data”. 5% of urban children and 5% of rural children reported “online class connectivity problems” in the sample. Many found it difficult to follow the material online, with 46% of urban samples and %% of rural samples reporting this problem.

The report titled ‘Locked Out – Emergency Report on School Education’ emphasizes the need to reopen schools. Urban0% urban parents and rural% rural parents wanted schools to be reopened. “Most parents feel that their child’s ability to read and write has diminished during the lockout. They are desperately waiting for the schools to reopen. In fact, for many of them, schooling is the only hope that their children will have a better life than their own, ”the report said.

Among “offline children” (who were not studying online at the time of the survey) there was little evidence of regular reading. A large majority are either not studying at all, or are just studying in their own homes from time to time. In rural areas, about half of the offline children were not studying at the time of the survey.

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Many have lost their literacy levels. 65% of parents in the sample whose children were studying online felt that their child’s ability to read and write had decreased since the lockdown began. In rural areas, the proportion was 70%. However, despite the massive decline in reading and writing ability, children are being promoted to the upper two classes of their pre-lockdown level.

“The survey provides an indication of the enormous damage caused by this extended lockout – one of the longest in the world. It will take years of patient work to repair this damage. Reopening schools is only the first step. We need to enable them for reasonable curriculum but also to restore their mental, social and nutritional well-being, ”the report said.

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