CCDS’s new research (2016–2018) aims to identify access to digital devices and internet at school, at home, and at the neighbourhood level for school children from low-income and socially excluded communities and the digital awareness and competency of these school students. The research will also explore the enablers and barriers for ICT education at school.
ICTs have the potential to transform education and student learning, especially in developing countries. As long as computers and the internet continue to play a central role in our personal and professional lives, students who have not acquired basic skills in reading, writing and navigating through a digital landscape will find themselves unable to participate fully in the economic, social and cultural life around them.
Besides school, children’s early experiences with ICT are also likely to be affected by the income, educational and work backgrounds of adult family members, cultural affiliations and language, and more specifically, family interest, expertise and support in relation to ICT. Children from low-income and socially excluded communities tend to have poor access to ICTs at home, as ownership of computers and other digital devices is low.
This lack of access to computers and internet is likely to deprive young people of opportunities to develop computer self-efficacy. The access divide can lead to a capability divide (also termed the second level digital divide) which can lead to an outcome divide (third level digital divide). The role of the school in imparting ICT skills and knowledge therefore becomes more crucial.
In India, the importance of technology in education was recognised as early as 1992, under the National Education Policy. The National Policy on ICT 2012 makes ICT training mandatory for secondary sections in government and private-aided schools. The policy eventually intends to cover upper primary sections as well. In 2012, the ICT@School scheme was introduced to ensure ICT education in all government and government-aided secondary and higher secondary schools in the country, with the emphasis on educationally backward blocks and areas with a concentration of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and weaker sections.
On the ground, however, data show that only 26% of elementary schools in the country have computers, and only 24% of schools have both computers and electricity. Secondary schools do not present a very encouraging picture either, with only 31.52% of all schools having an ICT laboratory and 40% of schools having both computers and electricity (U-DISE Analytical Data 2015–2016).
CCDS’s 2015 study on barriers to internet access for low-income urban populations found that only 65% of the students from five low-income settlements in the Pune urban agglomeration received ICT training at school.
This CCDS study will be published in end-2018.