503 districts had limited access to digital learning during Covid: Govt report | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

503 districts had limited access to digital learning during Covid: Govt report

Jul 10, 2023 05:05 AM IST

Students in 503 districts in India had limited access to digital learning during the pandemic, with 240 districts scoring less than 10%.

New Delhi: At a time when the pandemic forced schools to shut and shift classes online, students in 503 districts in the country had very limited access to digital learning, with 240 of them scoring less than 10%, according to a government report released on Sunday.

240 of the 503 districts with limited access to digital learning have scored less than 10% in performance grading index. (HT Archive)
240 of the 503 districts with limited access to digital learning have scored less than 10% in performance grading index. (HT Archive)

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A majority of districts were in the bottom three grades (less than 10% to 30%) during the two pandemic years, “indicating the need for boosting the digital learning aspect”, highlighted a report of the performance grading index for districts (PGI-D) for the years 2020-21 and 2021-22 prepared by the education ministry.

The index evaluates districts on the basis of six parameters -- learning outcomes, effective classroom interactions, infrastructure facilities, school safety and child protection, digital learning and government process. The PGI score is classified into various grades depending on the scores of the districts, which ranges between less than 10% to more than 90%.

“The ultimate objective of PGI-D is to help the districts to prioritize areas for intervention in school education and thus improve to reach the highest grade,” the report stated.

In 2020-21, as many as 240 districts scored less than 10% in the digital learning parameter, 156 districts scored 11% to 20 %, while 107 districts had scores between 21% and 30%, the report revealed.

Although some districts saw a marginal improvement in digital learning in 2021-22, the report highlighted that 119 of them still scored less than 10%, 209 scored between 11% to 20%, and 116 scored between 21% and 30%.

The report also underscored the rural-urban divide in India. For instance, some districts in states including Delhi, Chandigarh and Kerala scored between 25 and 32 out of 50, whereas rural districts such as Assam’s South Salmara Mankachar, Arunachal Pradesh’s Anjaw district and Bihar’s Kishanganj scored just one in the category in 2020-21.

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The other low scoring districts included Assam’s Goalpara and Hailakandi, Chhattisgarh’s Kondagaon, Jharkhand’s Godda and Pakaur, Madhya Pradesh’s Dewas and Uttar Pradesh’s Deoria and Ballia.

“10 districts have shown over 20% improvement in score and 74 districts shown improvement of over 10% in score during 2021-22 as compared to 2019-20. Overall grade level improvement in 2021-22 under the category is 202 districts,” the report stated.

The performance of districts have been evaluated on the basis of percentage of schools with internet facility for teaching, percentage of schools having computer-assisted teaching learning facility, student to computer ratio, and percentage of teachers trained in use of computer and teaching through computers.

“In the last two years, Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the changes required to be made in our existing system in terms of the adoption of digital learning as part of mainstream learning to continue education at home in face of any such crisis. This necessitated a need for a domain on digital learning in PGI-D, which is not there in State PGI,” the report said.

Meanwhile, in the learning outcome category, only one district has scored less than 10% score in 2020-21, 10 scored 11% and 20%, 63 scored between 21% and 30% and 289 scored between 515 and 60%. In 2021-22, no school scored less than 10% in learning outcomes, infrastructure facilities, and government process, the report stated.

The ASER report released in January this year highlighted a massive drop in learning levels among students due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The report highlighted that the basic learning ability dropped lowest level since 2012 and ability to complete arithmetic problems dropped to levels last seen in 2014.

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The ministry had on Friday released the PGI state-wise performance report, in which Chandigarh and Punjab emerged as the best performing states.

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    Fareeha Iftikhar is a Special Correspondent with the national political bureau of the Hindustan Times. She tracks the education ministry, and covers the beat at the national level for the newspaper. She also writes on issues related to gender, human rights and different policy matters.

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