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  • Writer's pictureBenjamin Scholz

Atlas of ICT access for government school students in India

With new announcements made by the Government regarding the use of distance education, it is worth to take a closer look at whether government school students have access to these means of communication.

The Central government has announced "One [TV] channel for one class", especially for those students who have no access to the internet.

Using a large scale household dataset (ASER 2018) and focusing on government school students, we have visualized access to ICT State-wise for India (not all States / UTs are covered in ASER, hence not all States/UTs are colored; further, in 2019, Ladakh was constituted as a separate union territory; at the time of the survey, it was part of Jammu and Kashmir; hence, we use the same numbers for both) and District-wise for Bihar.

There are obviously fluctuations, especially when it comes to smartphones as migrant workers are returning to their home States. This could increase the share of households with a smartphone, especially in States like Bihar and UP. Yet, access to smartphones does not imply access to the internet. Especially when incomes collapse, many households will not purchase data packages. The connection quality might further be poor in rural areas. Hence, having a smartphone in the household does not imply access to online education. In this sense, the below numbers can be seen as an upper bound proxy for access to online education.

India - State wise access to ICT

This indicates that if TV and online education are seen as the main channels, more than half of all government school students will be excluded in States like Bihar or UP. At the same time, more than 95% will have access in Kerala.

When focusing on smartphones in particular, it becomes clear that online education is excluding students throughout India, but in particular those in poorer States. Note that this is an upper bound proxy for access to online education. Not every smartphone owner has internet access. Intra-household distributions might further exclude students from using the household's smartphone.

A similar unequal distribution among States can be found when looking at the share of households that have a TV at home. In addition, it is worth to look at the share of households that have a TV and that had working electricity during the survey.

When considering using an IVRS or SMS, it is important to know the share of households having acess to some kind of mobile, whether a simple one or a smartphone.

Indeed, a high share of households in States like Bihar has access to a simple phone, but not a smartphone.

Bihar - District-wise Access to ICT

If you find any errors, please let us know.

We thank the ASER Centre in New Delhi for making their 2018 dataset available to us. More information on ASER 2018 can be found here.

The analysis was done by EPIB using R and tableau for visualization. All errors are ours.

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