Only 52% of school students have access to smartphone in ASSAM

GUWAHATI: Even as schools will formally reopen across Assam with students starting from Class VI having the option to come to campus, many are likely to stay back home and continue attending online classes. But low attendance on campus coupled with the fact that many government school students in Assam still do not have smartphones is going to be a major stumbling block in the path of education.

As per the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) (Rural) 2020 published this week, only 52.4 percent of government school students and 78.3 of those studying in private schools in the state have access to smartphones.

“The ASER report was published after the first major study carried out across the country following the breakout of Covid-19. Many students don’t have smartphones. And even among the ones who have smartphones, many are not well conversant enough with the technology to be able to attend online classes. Thus, they can’t access the learning materials being circulated online,” said Trishna Lekharu, research manager at Assam chapter of Pratham Education Foundation, which compiled the report.

Despite being the gateway to the northeast, Assam has lagged behind several other northeastern states in providing online education during the pandemic. Covering both government and private schools, the percentage of students having smartphones in their families in some other NE states are 84.3% in Manipur, 81.8% in Nagaland, 81.1% in Arunachal Pradesh and 72% in Meghalaya.

The survey, which was carried out in September, found that most learning materials were circulated by schools on WhatsApp. Therefore, the learning process of students who did not have a smartphone or other devices was severely affected.

Even among those who had smartphones, the number of students who could access learning materials and logged in to attend classes was 71.3% in Nagaland, 50.1% in Arunachal Pradesh, 30% in Manipur, 28.3% in Meghalaya and 24.9% in Assam.

Among them, the number of children who received learning materials and engaged in activities through WhatsApp were 93.7% in Arunachal Pradesh, 84.9% in Nagaland, 81.4% in Assam, 75.3% in Manipur and 59.5% in Meghalaya.