A study and subsequent report by the Department of School Education and Literacy of the Government of India has revealed that there is a high digital divide in Tamil Nadu between the government and the private schools, which can lead to a high level of disparity.
The study report of the Unified District Information System for Education (UDISE) for 2019-20, revealed that only 18 per cent of the government schools in Tamil Nadu have internet access and in private schools it is more than 75 per cent.
The study revealed that almost 79.12 per cent of the government schools have computers but the internet access is only 17.95 per cent. On the other hand 90 per cent of private schools have computers and the internet access is 75 per cent.
As schools are still not open, the only medium of education is through technology and the government students in Tamil Nadu are most affected due to the poor Internet access in these schools. It may be noted that during the lockdown, the Tamil Nadu education department's plan to educate students of Class 12 through schools did not materialise owing to the lack of internet access.
The study report also said that the government-aided schools have also less than 30 per cent internet access. Interestingly functional computers are only 46 per cent in government-aided schools, which is abysmally poor than that of both government and private schools.
Mahesh Krishnamoorthy, Swadeshi Jagaran Manch, Joint Convenor of Tamil Nadu and academic activist told IANS, "Unless internet access is provided to students of government schools and government-aided schools, the digital divide in the state will increase and this will lead to another major class issue. The UDISE report is a benchmark and a pointer which the state government should consider properly and act immediately to solve the problem."
The study report also said that only one in five government schools can conduct online classes from the schools.
A senior official with the education department, however, said that the situation in Tamil Nadu has improved much and that the 2019-20 report is not a proper indicator of the present situation in the state. He, however, said that there is much more to be done in the state to reduce the digital divide among students.