In times when it is getting hard to imagine a world without the Internet, this latest Government of India report reveals that the world’s largest sub-national entity, Uttar Pradesh, suffers an acute shortage of Internet access to schools.
Almost 85 percent of schools in Uttar Pradesh lack access to the internet as per the Unified District Information System for Education plus (UDISE+) report for 2021–22. The report, which is an initiative of the Education Ministry to collate data about school education, shows that in states like Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, West Bengal, Meghalaya, Odisha, Telangana, and Tripura; only about 15-20 percent of schools have access to the Internet.
Vijay Sonker, a government school principal, from Sitapur in UP, tells, “We usually use our own phone handsets when it comes to accessing the Internet as a teaching aid.”
Bihar and Mizoram are the worst performers, with almost 90 percent of schools not having access to the Internet.
Delhi and Lakshwadeep, each, have 100 percent of schools with working computer facilities, reveals the report. Also, 97.4 percent of schools in these States have access to the internet. Interestingly, Delhi is also the only Union Territory to have 100% of its schools with an internet connection. Among the States, Kerala (94.6 percent) and Gujarat (92 percent) are the top performers.
Another interesting piece of information revealed by this report is that Gujarat (94.2 percent) is also the only State where government schools outnumber private (89.6 percent) ones when it comes to Internet access.
Talking about student enrolments, the report tells that as compared to 2020-21, when the enrolment count stood at 25.38 crores, the number has slightly improved and during 2021-22 the total number of students enrolled in schools from primary to higher secondary stood at 25.57. There has been an increase of 19.36 lakh enrolments.
While Uttar Pradesh may have scored poorly in terms of Internet access in schools, India’s most populous State witnessed the highest number of enrolment of students in government schools and recruitment of teachers.
The UDISE+ report also tells that the number of students enrolled under SC, ST, OBC, and Children with Special Needs (CWSN) also witnessed an increase last year, as per the report. Deepmala Pandey, a government school principal from Bareilly, who works towards facilitating access to education for children with special needs, expresses her happiness saying, “It is heartening to see an increase in the enrolment of special children. The momentum should not break.”
While much remains to be done in UP and elsewhere, the report shows an overall improvement as compared to previous years.
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