Digital Divide is a very famous word nowadays in the development sector but why?
Let me discuss one aspect of it – Digital Divide in Education.
Lockdown was a very new and sudden thing for us. We all were searching for new ways to live without going outside. And it happened in the education sector too. During the lockdown all school colleges get closed and our education has shifted from school to online mode. Now computers and smartphones are our classrooms. But the sad reality is not all children and young people can get online education because of the digital divide.
If we talk about India then according to the NSO report 2020 digital divide in India only 15 % of the population from rural areas are connected to the internet and only 1/10 households have computers/smartphones/tablets. And one more big issue is that only 20% of Indian people above 5 years have basic digital literacy.
And if we see globally then two-thirds of the world’s school-age children – or 1.3 billion children aged 3 to 17 years old – do not have internet connection in their homes, according to a new joint report from UNICEF and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
This problem is global and as a result, millions of children and youth are away from proper education due to the digital divide.
In this situation, Dr Sapan Kumar, principal of Dumarthar Government School, Dumka, India came up with a unique idea of providing education to the children without school and digital access. He made dozens of blackboards in the walls of mud houses and started teaching around them. He painted all the essential study materials on the walls like the alphabet, table, numerical etc.
To follow the Covid-19 rule he selected four different spots in the village and invited children in the rotation. And in the lockdown children were studying without going to school. They have to just come outside their homes.
The idea was unique so children were also excited. They are very self-dependent because with the formal education they learn various skills and make their own mat, sweeper, blackboards with natural resources and even chalk.
My story is all about the hope and unique initiative to remove the digital divide and also about the fighting of social issues. And this story is important to make education accessible for everyone.
Himanshu Kumar is a youth advocate and theatre artist from Jharkhand, India.
Now working with HCD Exchange as Programme Management, M&E Associate of Youth Leadership Hub. He is also working with a film production house and done various productions like short film, documentary, ad commercials etc.
He is also a youth researcher of project VOG and served as Youth Accountability Advocate of Restless Development and his focus area was SDG- 5, recently expanded his work with Radio Khanchi on a radio fellowship by UNESCO & CRA, New Delhi. He created audio content on all indicators of SDG – 5. He holds a master’s degree in mass communication from Ranchi University, Ranchi.