A study was conducted by the Psychological Resource Centre of the Government College for Women, under the instructions of the Directorate of Collegiate Education, to access the academic and psychological well being of students in Kerala. The study found that out of the 99% of college students have access to smartphone devices. But out of these, less than 50% have been able to attend online classes regularly due to connectivity issues.
The study was carried out in collaboration with the Walk With Scholar programme that has nodal offices in 182 colleges across the State. The study surveyed 8005 students who represented a cross-section of Kerala society.
The following are the findings with respect to smartphone penetration:
- 78.51% students have personal smartphones
- 11.66% share the device with family members
- 9.32% share their device with siblings
- 0.51% do not have access to smartphones
A further breakdown of this demographic with respect to their attendance revealed that
- 48.4% students are able to attend 90% of classes
- 39.8% are able to attend 50-90%
- Nearly 8% are able to attend 25-50%
- 3.3% are able to attend only less than 25%
- 0.5% are not able to attend online classes
The report also showed that 68.93% of students cited network issues as the primary reason for not being able to attend classes. 34.70% said that they were not able to attend classes regularly due to electricity issues. 28.96% said that they were not able to attend classes due to insufficient data packs. 23.26% stated that their phones did not have sufficient memory.
This survey has brought to light the harsh ground reality faced by students in Kerala. It showed that over 57% of students are not satisfied with the effectiveness of online classes and only 6.5% want online classes extended to the 2021-2022 academic year. It shows that students from the SC and ST communities have significantly lower attendance in online classes.
In light of these findings, Higher Education Minister R Bindhu said, “The study has brought to the fore quite a lot of crucial aspects of online studies that Covid has thrust upon all of a sudden. It was the coordinated efforts that helped us to ensure this much access to smartphones. But the digital divide does exist even in the form of poor connectivity. This is exactly why the Chief Minister has convened a meeting of internet service providers with an appeal to solve the connectivity issues at the earliest. In the meantime, we are also open to exploring stop-gap arrangements to help students to tide over the present crisis.”