An online survey conducted by a Tokyo-based non-profit organization, Nippon Foundation, disclosed that 58.6 percent of participants aged between 17 to 19 felt the widening inequality in education or an education gap during COVID-19 with some being completely deprived of online learning during nationwide shutdown. The discrepancy was accentuated further by location and economic background of the students. Many found it impossible to secure even the bare minimum resources indispensable to online learning.
The report highlighted that about 37.4 percent of students were worried about loss of education during the extended school closures. 17.8 percent expressed concern with higher education, competitive exams and employment prospects.
In K-12 and higher education, the digital divide has created a significant barrier in the US among other countries such as India. According to Pew Research Centre, 15% of US households with young students lack high-speed internet access. Gigi Sohn, fellow at the Georgetown Law Institute for Technology, comments on how the gap leaves millions of American students disconnected with education.
Nippo Foundation’s survey has also exposed other barriers such as students’ anxiety in starting the classes and their concerns about not being able to make a connection with peers in the new academic year.
In India, according to a report published in April by The Print, a whopping 16 lakh students studying in municipal and government schools could not attend the online classes owing to a lack of resources.
A deep cynicism has also set within Indian students studying abroad. “It feels bad to pay so much in fees and then do my programme online,” expressed a student presently enrolled in University in California for Master’s Degree.