Impact on online education of secondary school students

Atanu Sengupta & Asish Kumar Pal

Online class has reached to the door of students due to lockdown for combating the spread of covid-19. The government has instructed to continue online education due to closeing of schools and colleges throughout the country. The students who are basically socio-economically backward suffering from some difficulties which are the main barriers to get this system. We have considered three basic issues such as social, economical and technical related.  This article aims to focus on the actual impact on online mode of learning among the secondary school students. We have tried to understand the adverse relations between socio-economic, technical factors and online learning. This can lead to cause child labour in case of boys students and child marriage in case of girls students. This also creates a social gap between poor and rich.

As the unprecedented lockdown is going on for outbreaking of coronavirus disease throughout the country, the government has instructed to carry on online education instead of face to face class room education. But there are some issues that create inconvenience to the secondary students relating to social, economical and technical -accessories of internet. These difficulties may be challenges to the students who are unable to enjoy the digital platform of education. Some of the students do not have online device such as laptop, desktop and Android cellular phone due to absence of purchasing power. Many of them do not know the proper use of apps by which they can catch their class. They are not prepared for online system due to sudden lockdown that has forced to stay at home. As a result many youngsters have been left behind that ensures educationally backwardness. The online education system has forced to bring a disparity between rich and poor students in the society. This paper attempts to express about the impact  of online education on the  socio-economically backward secondary school students of rural India. Not only that,  we have focused the technological issues which are present in the daily rural life.

Review of recent reports
To examine the real fact of online education in this hard situation some reports are reviewed by us very recent. These are basically published in daily newspapers.

A report on COVOD- 19 pandemic that describes about the impact and strategies for education sector in India (Choudhury, April 16, 2020). She experienced that the Pandemic has significantly disrupted the education sector as well, which is a critical determinant of a country's economic future.

Parents of high school students are optimistic that school closed because of COVID-19 pandemic will reopen relatively soon, according to a new Kaplan Test Prep survey ( March, 2020).

As the world is fighting against the COVID- 19 outbreak, more than 130 countries have now closed schools Nationwide, impacting nearly 80% of students globally ( Source:

A very recent survey is published (May 14, 2020) about 'why online classes won't reach 2.6 L students of school'of Kerala' . It states that the district Wayanad has the highest number of students (16%) without facilities to attend online classes.

According to UNESCO report more than 157 crore students across 191 countries severely impacted by closure of educational institutions due to coronavirus. Coming to India the report by UNESCO says that over 32 crore students hit by COVOD- 19 as school and colleges are shut.

A newspaper has reported about the disruptions on online teaching to poor school students  in Delhi for Covid -19. The report says that many students don’t have smartphones or laptops to attend online classes or get work on WhatsApp (April 22, Bedi).

World Bank (March 30, 2020), very recent has revealed data using ‘ learning poverty' indicator that 53% of children in low and middle income countries are suffering from the previous situation of pandemic outbreak.

Students from remote districts and those belonging to poor communities are mostly affected negatively by online method ( Lakshman, April 09, 2020).

Most of the reports or survey are done on the basis of online education which are mainly technological related hazards. Here we have emphasised on social, economical and technical issues which can cause the changes of socio-economic and political aspects of the society.

Analysis of information
The most reliable and relevant informations are collected on the basis of socio-economic Survey and some subjective technical related issues which are faced by the secondary school students. This survey is conducted by interview method in a quietly rural based area where one  government aided secondary school is situated without any presence of private school.

Social issues  
On the basis of social issues first we come to consider to the generational difference in educational experience.  In our sample, 46% of the secondary school students have 5-8 years of schooling. 54% are above class VIII. However, if we compare it with parental schooling of their families, a  substantial positive mobility is observed.  By parental we mean not only biological parents but all persons belonging to an earlier generation. 27% of the families of secondary school students  have maximal parental educational experience of primary level (Less than or equal to 4 years).  Only in 33% case, do parental education crossed the secondary level (above 10 standard).

 Table 1 (a):   Educational status of students of secondary school

Years of schooling

No of students



Above 8



Table (b) : Parental Educational status of the secondary school students

Maximum schooling in family

No of respondent students

1- 4




Above 10


The results obtain from table 3 shows the poverty condition of the respondents. 31% of the students belong to below poverty level that indicates they are from poor family of the village.

Table (C): Status of category about poverty among the secondary school students

Category of poverty

No of respondents






Among the main problem of online education is the availability of undisturbed time for study at home. While school provide an ideal secluse, this is not easily available at home. Numerous sources of distraction may appear at home that hamper proper concentration in attending lectures.From the result shown in table maximum (72%) feel disturbance due to proper environment of study through online. They cannot attend lectures in an undisturbed environment. Only 28% enjoy proper environment for this.

Table (d): Adequate environment of study through online


No of respondents



Not disturbing


Not all students have a quiet space for learning at home. Only 33% have one separate study room and 67% face absence of a separate study   room where they can concentrate on listening on-line lectures.

Table (e): Distribution of personal  room of the respondents for online

Availability of dwelling room

No of students





Economic issues  
Our next discussion is on economic issues. As to the economic background It is evident from the table that most of them come from agricultural family (46%). They are basically marginal and small farmers who earn a very little income. The next big chunk is the government service (16%) while business account for 12%. Thus most of the students have no idea about the online procedure of learning that are involved in the life of a secondary school student in village area.

Table 2 (a) : Family occupation of students of secondary school

Father’s occupation

No of students



Rural non farm


Urban non farm


Government service






Looking the table it is understood that monthly earnings of the family of respondents of secondary school students are basically lower income group. This proves that they are unable to reach the digital platform of learning due to lack of purchasing power. Only 26% of the respondents can reach to this learning system.  But in this hard time of increasing joblessness due to lockdown,  the on-line system puts a burden on them. The constitutional goal of free compulsory education is thus thrawted.

Table 2(b): Income of the family of respondent students

Income (monthly)

No of the students





Above 15000


To investigate the problem further, we consider whether the families have other sources of income besides the major source. It turns out that only  23% families have other sources of income. 

Table 2 (C) :Availability of other source of income

Other source

No of the students





The students are asked about opinion of bearing the cost that is required for online education. 38% respondents expressed opinion that their guardians cannot maintain its cost. Due to the cost barrier the boys students are forced to leave from the education. They will move to work for earning. And the girls students are forced by the family to get married. In fact, one report in a local newspaper gives information of an increase in underage marriage during the period of lockdown This will increase the drop out from secondary education. So  we can easily predict that covid-19 crisis will push millions of secondary school students out of the ambit of formal education system. Many will be pushed to the child labour markets, girls into the pangs of underage marriage. Pratichi Reports have suggested how girls are fighting to avoid child marriage. The Covid19 lockdown will frustrate this effort.

Table 2. ( d) Opinion about cost of online classes


No of the respondents

Cost bearing


Not cost bearing


Technical issues
Now coming to the technical issues those are raised for online learning education we see that despite of several difficulties the students attend and follow up this method. Our survey in table shows that only 71% family have smart phones which can help to touch in this digital learning. Table also shows only 20% family have desktop or laptop and most of the families of secondary school students do not have laptop or desktop as they belong to poorer society.

Table 3 (a) : Availability of smart phone family holders among the secondary school students

Availability of smart phone

No of secondary school students





Table 3 (b) : Distribution of desktop or laptop holder family

Holding computer/laptop

No of households





We asked the students about their opinions regarding  proper Internet availability in the area. We got  negative response from the maximum ( 67%) respondents. This indicates the students suffer from noisy internet service in the locality.
Table 3 (C) : Response about proper Internet availability from the students


No of students





The information in the table regarding usage among the boys and girls students separately helps to understand surprisingly only 30% girls students can use properly internet usage where a larger proportion (70%) boys know it very well. So here is a gender gap of online learning mode that may cause the girls students to way out from this system. This turn to be get child marriage that may bring back again in the society for covid-19.

Table 3(d): Internet usage among the boys and girls  students of secondary school

Types of students

% of students





These technical issues may cause lack of strong network and other educational disruptions which are shown in the table no       95% suffers from strong network which disrupts the educational system. 78% face this type of disruptions.

Table 4: Lack of strong network from the response of the students

Network problem

% of students





Table 5: Educational disruptions among the students

Educational disruptions

No of students





So many technical problems and disruptions lead to increase stress related problems. 82% of the respondent students have answered they suffer from stress related problems.
Table 6: Stress increase


No of respondents





No idea


From several social, economical and technological difficulties 55% students have expressed fear that they will be unable to stay enroll in the school. And 45% have opined positive response to stay registered.

Table 7: Ability to stay enroll in the school


No of sample students





The analysis of information clearly helps to understand that online education has impacted adversely to the secondary school students who are not getting to stay in connection with digital platform due to less purchasing power. The students who enjoy this system, are not happy due to technical difficulties that may cause the mental  stress and expressed fear to stay enroll in the school. From those who may be orphaned due to the pandemic to boys students who can be forced to drop out of school, the crisis can lead to a surge in child labourers. And the girls students who are deprived from online education due to COVID- 19 crisis, can move to a surge in child marriage.

Bedi, Amnesia, April 22, 2020, ‘ No gadgets, no studies: What online classes mean for 16 lakh poor students in Delhi schools' , https//the
Choudhury,Richa, ( April,16, 2020), Covid-19 Pandemic: Impact and Strategies for education sector in India, https://government.
Common Wealth Learning (COL) statement (May 15, 2020) regarding Keeping the doors of learning open Covid-19
Lakshman, Remya, (April 09, 2020), “How is Covid-19 impacting online education”, https//
UNESCO report Updated (2020)
World Bank data (March 30, 2020),  published on ‘Education for Global , https//

Dr. Atanu Sengupta, Professor, Economics Department, Burdwan University,  West Bengal, India
Dr. Asish Kumar Pal, Assistant Professor, Economics Department,  Tarakeswar Degree College, Tarakeswar, Hooghly, West Bengal, India

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Jun 5, 2020

Dr. Atanu Sengupta

Dr. Asish Kumar Pal

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