A civil society survey of the Gujarat government’s “study from home” scheme, introduced on March 28, four days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi suddenly announced national lockdown in view of the Covid-19 crisis, has found that a whopping 61% of the children are unable to take advantage of the weekly online material, sought to be provided by the state authorities to the parents to ensure that children are not devoid of education.
At the same time, the survey, carried out in order to assess the efficacy of the scheme for standards 3 to 10, finds that just about 13.57% children are able to “regularly use” the online material, which they get on social media, especially WhatsApp. The survey involves 717 parents across seven Gujarat districts – Ahmedabad, Anand, Panchmahals, Chhotaudepur, Kutch, Sabarkantha and Aravalli. This includes Ahmedabad city and the rural areas of 13 talukas of these districts.
Among the reasons why so few children are able to use online teaching material, the survey result show that 376 parents (35.5%) do not have android phones; of the 460 parents who do have android phones, 61 (13.26%) do not use internet; 84 parents (21.6%) do not get any online material sent by the authorities; and a whopping 40.49% children do get online material but do not use it at all.
The survey further suggests that the situation is particularly bad in Ahmedabad city, where 62.5% of the parents who have android phone and are using internet do not get any online material, a direct commentary on governance on education amidst lockdown period, worse than the rural areas — Anand 34.54%, Panchmahals 26.31%, Chhotaudepur 24.48%, Kutch 39.06%, Sabarkantha 13.63%, and Aravalli 16.66%.
Situation is particularly bad in Ahmedabad city, where 62.5% parents having android phone and internet do not get any online material
The survey finds that, of the 717 parents, while in 284 (39%) cases their children did use the online material, it was pretty irregular. Thus, in 28% of cases (79) it was used just once, in 58 cases (20.42%) it was used twice; in 44 cases (15.49%) it was used thrice; in 31 cases (10.91%) it was used four times; and only in 33 cases (11.61%) it was used five times.
A report based on the survey, which was carried out by the Ahmedabad-based NGO, Janvikas, estimates that it is possible to conclude that while there are 43.23 lakh children studying from standards three to eight in Gujarat schools, “about 26.37 lakh (61%) are deprived of the ‘study from home’ scheme.”
The report recommends that, as an alternative, efforts should be made to home deliver the study material, and online classes should be given on LED screens, attached with computers, claimed to available in all schools, to needy children, keeping in mind norms of social distancing.