27 pc students do not have access to smartphones, laptops for online classes: NCERT survey

NCERT survey reveals the two factors hindering successful online learning amid the lockdown: students' lack of access to smartphones and laptops, and teachers not being well versed with online teaching methodologies.

At least 27 percent students do not have access to smartphones or laptops to attend online classes, while 28 percent students and parents believe intermittent or lack of electricity is one of the major concerns hindering learning, according to a survey by the NCERT.

The survey with over 34,000 partcipants, including students, parents, teachers, and school principals from Kendriya Vidyalayas, Navodyaya Vidyalas, and CBSE-affiliated schools, has pointed out that the lack of knowledge of using devices for effective educational purposes and teachers not being well versed with online teaching methodologies caused hindrance in the learning process.

"Approximately 27 percent of students mentioned the non-availability of smartphones and laptops. Maximum number of stakeholders have opted for mobile phones as a medium for teaching-learning during the COVID-19 period," the survey by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) said.

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"About 36 percent of students used textbooks and other books available with them. Laptops were the second most favoured option amongst teachers and principals. Television and radio were the least used devices for learning in the pandemic situation. The absence of enriched interaction between the teacher and the students was one of the reasons identified by the stakeholders," it added.

The survey noted that almost all responsive states use physical (non-digital) mechanisms to track the progress of learners with majority of them either practising home visits by teachers or systematic parental guidance via phone calls.

"About half of the students stated that they did not have school textbooks. Although e-text books are available on NCERT website and DIKSHA, probable reasons are that students are used to studying from a hard copy, there is lack of awareness regarding availability of the e-textbook, and paucity of devices with students and teachers," it said.

Online learning issues

Majority of the stakeholders pointed out that mathematics as a subject was difficult to learn via online medium. Mathematics contains a number of concepts that require interaction, continuous support, and monitoring, and these aspects were lacking in the online mode of teaching.

"Next to mathematics, science was identified as a subject of concern since it contains several concepts and practical experiments that can only be done in a laboratory under the teacher's supervision. A few stakeholders also found social science difficult to grasp through online classes," the survey said.

It added that around 17 percent of students identified languages as being difficult to learn online.

"Many students and parents felt the need for physical education classes through online mode, as physical fitness is the need of the hour to combat this pandemic. Arts education can help reduce stress and boredom. Around 10 percent of the stakeholders mentioned art education as a subject of concern," the survey said.

Universities and schools across the country have been closed since March 16, when the Centre announced a countrywide classroom shutdown as part of measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

A nationwide lockdown was imposed on March 25. While several restrictions have been eased, schools and colleges continue to be closed. The prolonged closure of educational institutions has mandated a shift from classroom teaching to online learning.

Based on the NCERT survey findings, the Ministry of Education has formulated Students' Learning Enhancement Guidelines.

"The guidelines will help children, who do not have digital resources, to get learning opportunities at their homes, with their teachers or volunteers. Apart from this, it will also help in our efforts to overcome learning deficiencies of students who are learning at home through various alternative ways using radio, television, or smartphone," Union Minister of Education Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' said.

The minister said the guidelines and models are suggested for three types of situations.

"Firstly, in which students do not have any digital resources. Secondly, in which students have limited digital resources available. Lastly, in which students have digital resources for online education," he said.

(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)


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