‘Only 2.51% of govt. school students have access to a computer or laptop’

Only about half of the student population of government schools in the Union Territory have access to gadgets and internet connection.

This is making it difficult for the Education Department to depend on one online platform to have virtual classes during the COVID-19 lockdown.

A ‘Device Availability Survey’ conducted by the department during distribution of food security allowance revealed that only 2.51% of government school students had access to a computer or a laptop in the Union Territory.

Students having tablets are confined to 0.89% and smartphone with internet connection to 47.98% while 10.42% of the students have access to a smartphone without internet connection.

Even in the case of access to television sets, the numbers are not too comfortable, given the Union Territory’s status of a higher per capita income place.

While 67.41% of the students have access to televisions sets with cable connection, only 20.83% of students have access to television sets with DTH connection.

When it comes to button phone, 52.13% of the students have access to the gadget. Students having access to radio is only 10.81%, the survey said.

Director of School Education P.T. Rudra Goud told The Hindu that the digital divide posed a major challenge in conducting online classes.

“We will have to plan a multi-mode strategy where people can access study materials through television. We have already directed the students to watch Kalvi channel of Tamil Nadu. Since the syllabus is the same, the students can benefit from watching the channel,” he said.

The department would be also sharing recorded videos of subjects explained by the teachers, he said. “Blended modes of transmission will be considered to ensure maximum reach,” he said.

On the partial resumption of educational activities in high schools, Mr. Goud said there was good response from the students. “Only one student got infected with coronavirus and the transmission was from outside school,” he said.

The department also issued show cause notice to Kavi Bharathi School at K.T. Kuppam near Madagadipet for not following guidelines. “Inspection by our team revealed that the school authorities were not following social distancing norms. The team will be again visiting the school on Friday,” he said.

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