The percentage of school students owning a smartphone in rural India has increased from over 36 per cent to 61 per cent in the last two years, the Economic Survey 2020-21 noted and stated that if utilised well, the resultant reduction in digital divide is likely to reduce inequalities in educational outcomes.
According to the survey tabled in Parliament on Friday, “Access to data network, electronic devices such as computer, laptop, smartphone, etc. gained importance due to distance learning and remote working…. Percentage of enrolled children from government and private schools owning a smartphone increased enormously from 36.5 pc in 2018 to 61.8 pc in 2020 in rural India.”
“Utilised well, the resultant reduction in the digital divide between rural and urban, gender, age, and income groups is likely to reduce inequalities in educational outcomes,” it said.
On the literacy front, the survey pointed out how the country is still four per cent short of 100 per cent literacy at elementary level and female literacy continues to be below the national average.
“While India has attained a literacy level of almost 96 pc at the elementary school level, it is still behind in achieving 100 pc. As per National Sample Survey (NSS), the literacy rate of persons of age seven years and above at the all India level stood at 77.7 pc but the differences in literacy rate attainment among social-religious groups, as well as gender still persists. Female literacy remained below the national average among social groups of SC, ST, OBC, including religious groups of Hinduism and Islam, it said.
The survey also stated that the new National Education Policy (NEP) aims to pave the way for transformational reforms in school and higher education systems in the country.
Universalisation of education from pre-school to secondary level with 100 per cent gross enrolment ratio in school education by 2030, to bring two crore, out-of-school children, back into the mainstream through universalisation of access and expanding the open schooling system, Classes 10 and 12 board examinations to be made easier to test core competencies rather than memorised facts, vocational education to start from Class 6 with internships, and teaching up to at least Class 5 to be in mother tongue/regional language, wherever possible, are among the key points of NEP highlighted in the survey.