ECONOMYNEXT – About 85% of school children in Sri Lanka had received some level of education online, some supplemented by printed materials, although children from low-income families suffered more during the first coronavirus lockdown, a study has found.
A survey by LIRNEasia, a regional policy research organization, found that 85% of enrolled school-aged children received some form of educational services during school closures between March and July 2020. .
While some received educational services through multiple means, 54% of students received information, instructions, grades or assignments sent to smartphones, tabs or computers.
About 50% had live classes delivered over Zoom and other apps (potentially alongside other methods).
About 60% received educational services through “offline” methods, such as physical delivery of materials (possibly alongside other methods).
Difficulties ranged from poor signal quality to a lack of devices to move around the house.
“These survey data are consistent with the realities on the ground,” said Sujata Gamage of the Sri Lanka Education Forum.
“Shortly after schools closed, teachers and local education authorities mobilized all the resources at their disposal, whether using WhatsApp messages or leaving notes and assignments at the school door to collect them, in order to reach out to their students.
“Parents also seem to have risen to the challenge by increasing their access to the internet. Among households with enrolled school-aged children, 76% had internet access in 2020, up from 34% of such households in 2018, according to LIRNEasia’s AfterAccess survey.
“Unsurprisingly, 90% of enrolled children living in internet-connected households received distance learning services.
Although 85% received some form of educational services, only 48% relied exclusively on services from their school, while 4% relied exclusively on tuition service providers and 33% relied on both.
“The survey does not directly reveal information about the continuity or quality of educational services provided, but the rate of dissatisfaction with service providers shows an indication,” LIRNEasia said.
“Despite high access to distance education, more than 58% of households were dissatisfied with their distance education experience.
Children from affluent households are more likely to receive live education and sessions.
There was also inequality in terms of feedback, with only 48% receiving feedback and the remaining 52% not. (Colombo/09/11/2021)