SC directs Delhi government to help EWS category kids overcome 'stark consequences' of digital divide
The SC said that the digital divide, against the backdrop of the Covid pandemic, has produced "stark consequences" as right to education was virtually denied to children belonging to the disadvantaged group (DG)/economically weaker section (EWS).
The Supreme Court on Friday directed the Delhi government to develop a plan to help children of Economically Backward Class (EWS) category and disadvantaged groups during the Covid-19 pandemic for their online classes.
The SC said that the digital divide, against the backdrop of the Covid pandemic, has produced "stark consequences" as right to education was virtually denied to children belonging to the disadvantaged group (DG)/economically weaker section (EWS), as their families could not afford computer-based equipment and access to internet for online classes.
Also, the Centre should look into the funding equipment, computers, and internet packaging for students in government schools, aided schools, and EWS students in private schools.
Justices DY Chandrachud and BV Nagarathna however noted that there is a huge risk of kids dropping out of schools.
A bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud said, “It is necessary for the Delhi government to come with a plan to uphold the objective of the Right to Education (RTE) Act and the Centre to also coordinate with the state government and share concurrent responsibilities for the purposes of funding for resources.”
The needs of young children who are future of the country cannot be ignored, it said.
The bench emphasised that digital divide produced stark consequences as schools switched to digital medium during the pandemic, and that EWS/DG children may have to suffer consequences by not pursuing education, and in the worst case, they may even drop out, due to lack of resources to access online education.
It also appreciated the Delhi High Court order directing Delhi government to provide computer-based equipment and internet package, free of cost to EWS children in private and government schools.
The top court was hearing a plea by Action Committee Unaided Recognised Private Schools in connection with the access to technology by children who are attending online classes and funding needed for the same, news agency IANS reported.