A report published by Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen’s Pratichi (India) Trust found that about 40 per cent of primary school students could not attend online classes during the COVID-19 pandemic owing to the digital divide.
The report which highlights issues faced by students in accessing digital teaching was compiled based on the experiences shared by hundreds of teachers across 21 state-run primary schools in Kolkata, reported The Hindu. The findings are based on experiences over six months during the first wave of the pandemic (April to November 2020) shared by primary school teachers.
Sabir Ahamed, national research coordinator, Pratichi (India) Trust, and one of the authors of the report said there are two components to the digital divide — affordability, and accessibility of uninterrupted data.
Gaps In Learning Have Widened
The study also highlights the massive impact on the teaching-learning process, which underwent a sea change after the pandemic struck last year. The report said that the gaps in learning have widened and are varied due to multiple factors, including the education and income of parents.
Also, during the period surveyed, Kolkata witnessed one of the worst cyclones of the past few decades when Amphan wreaked havoc in south Bengal on May 20, 2020. For some time, the entire teaching-learning process came to a complete halt due to the lack of digital connectivity. The report also highlighted certain positive outcomes, too, including a rise in environmental awareness among children.