Online schooling in India took off in a big way during COVID-19 pandemic and the percentage of children using smart phones increased in the country, according to the Economic Survey 2020-21.
The percentage of smart phone use by children in both government and private schools owning a Smartphone increased from 36.5 per cent in 2018 to 61.8 per cent in 2020 in rural India, said the survey presented in Parliament by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on January 29.
The Economic Survey recommended that the resultant reduction in digital divide between rural and urban, income group, age and gender would help in reducing inequalities in educational outcomes.
The Survey points out that the Government came up with several initiatives to make education accessible to children during the pandemic. “One such initiative is the PM eVIDYA which is a comprehensive initiative to unify all efforts related to digital/online/on-air education to enable multi-mode and equitable access to education for students and teachers,” the survey said. About 92 courses were started and 1.5 crore students enrolled under Swayam MOOCs which are online courses relating to NIOS. The centre allotted Rs 818.17 crore to States and Union territories to promote online learning through digital initiatives and Rs.267.86 crore for online teacher training under Samagra Shiksha Scheme.
The Survey notes that India will have the largest population of young people in the world over the next decade. “So, our ability to provide high-quality educational opportunities to them will determine the future of our country (National Education Policy, 2020),” the Survey said.
The Economic Survey points out that the country attained a literacy level of almost 96 per cent at the elementary school level. As per National Sample Survey (NSS), the literacy rate of persons of seven years of age and above at the All India level stood at 77.7 per cent. Female literacy remained below national average among social groups of SC, ST, OBC, including religious groups of Hinduism and Islam, it said.