Even before they fully develop their handwriting skills, this generation’s school-aged children dexterously text and swipe away on their mobile phones or cosy up to their parents’ laptops. It’s undeniable that the Internet, as witnessed during two years of Covid, has also become their go-to learning alternative. However, the ‘virtual’ reality in schools, as we usher in the 5G era, is different.
Data released by the Ministry of Education in November last year revealed that while 34% of schools in India enjoyed internet facilities, more than 50% didn’t even have functional computers. In Gujarat, 30% of school-going children are deprived of internet-based education. This is ironic given that Gujarat is among the top three states that boast the best Internet facility.
Kerala tops the list among states that offer the best Internet facilities in schools with 87.84%, followed by New Delhi (85.69%).
Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are scraping at the bottom in this category, according to Rajya Sabha data sought by Gujarat BJP MP Narhari Amin.
Kamal Rawal, co-founder of the same Federation of Parents Association, Gujarat (FOPAG), laments saying that education is a low priority for the Gujarat government. He points out the piteous condition of schools, and even if Internet facilities are available, the speed is excruciatingly slow.
According to the Minister of State for Education of Gujarat, Prafulla Pansheriya, the system is changing for the better. The central desk board has taken it upon itself to monitor schools. Pansheriya claims that Internet connectivity has reached 94% of government secondary schools.
Educationist Dr AK Pandya insists that many secondary schools in Gujarat are making provisions for computers. The problem is with rural areas that lack infrastructure.
Digital education – whether through live, synchronous teaching on apps like Zoom, or recorded lectures, via email, WhatsApp, or educational apps – is largely dependent on schools providing the necessary infrastructure.
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