Bengal education dept asks for details of students with digital device access
The West Bengal School Education Department has asked the headmasters of government schools to provide the number of students in respective schools who have access to digital devices.
The department has asked them to submit the percentage of students who do have laptops, tablets, or smartphones.
The step was taken due to the problems seen in accessing online education resources due to the school shutdowns during the Covid-19 pandemic.
A recent NCERT survey also found that at least 27% of students in India lack access to online learning because they do not have smartphones, laptops or internet connection.
"You are requested to provide this office information regarding the number of students or percentage of students having digital devices (smartphone/computer/laptop)," said the letter from the Bengal education department issued five days ago, as per PTI.
"The report should be sent soon positively," the letter said.
The headmaster of Jadavpur Vidyapith Parimal Bhattacharya said that 70 to 80% of students from his schools have smartphones and the report has been submitted to the education department a few days ago.
He also told PTI that his school is taking other steps to help the rest of the 20-30% students such as sending audio clip on lectures on the school Whatsapp group from where those who do not have smartphones can also hear and note down the points.
"We are also planning to use the corpus in possession of the school for arranging smart devices for students not having android sets. We can also think about giving tuition to a small group of students following social distancing norms," he said.
He said that his schools and others were waiting on the guidelines to be sent across from the Bengal education department before taking a decision.
An education department official said that as per the reports submitted by around 20 schools, 70-90% of students in government schools have smartphones or tablets.
"Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Education Minister Partha Chatterjee have repeatedly stressed on bridging the digital divide and reaching out to every student,” he said.
If we get a fair idea about the exact percentage breakup we can devise a strategy accordingly and advise the schools to follow the model in their own way," the official added.
He said the findings of the report would be made known later on after careful scrutiny.