'Poor kids' education suffering due to digital divide'

Digital divide produced stark consequences for poor school children from rural and tribal areas: SC

The top court asked the Centre and state governments to work jointly to develop a realistic and lasting solution to ensure children were not denied education

Supreme Court. Credit: PTI File photo

The Supreme Court on Friday said that the digital divide following the Covid pandemic, has produced "stark consequences" as right to education was virtually denied to children of economically weaker sections and other disadvantaged groups due to unavailability of computer-based equipment and access to internet for online classes.

The top court asked the Centre and state governments to work jointly to develop a realistic and lasting solution to ensure children were not denied education due to lack of resources. Schools in rural and tribal areas have seen a large drop out rate owing to the lack of access to online education, it said.

The court was hearing a plea by Action Committee Unaided Recognised Private Schools in connection with the access to technology.

"We are merging EWS with mainstream and on the other hand, there is such disparity. The mother who is a maid and the father is a driver, where will they get the laptop from? You have to upload homework on the laptop," a bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and B V Nagarathna said.

The court directed the Delhi government to develop a plan to help children of EWS category.

"It is necessary for Delhi government to come with a plan to uphold the salutary objective of RTE act. Centre shpuld also coordinate with state governments and share concurrent responsibilities for the purposes of funding," the bench said.

The court said needs of young children who are future of the country cannot be ignored. It suggested the government to tap the corporate social responsibility funds for the purpose.

It ordered to tag the matter with special leave petitions against the Delhi High Court's September, 2020 judgement, directing Delhi government to provide computer-based equipment and internet package, free of cost to EWS children in private and government schools.

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