State of Computer Literacy in India

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Source: The post State of Computer Literacy in India has been created, based on the article “Computer literacy in India needs a reboot” published in “The Hindu” on 5th July 2024

UPSC Syllabus Topic: GS Paper2-governance-Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education

Context: The article discusses the importance of computer literacy in India, noting that it is essential for accessing many services and improving life quality. It highlights the low levels of computer skills, especially in rural and economically disadvantaged areas, and stresses the need for better education and training programs to reduce the digital divide.

For detailed information on Digital Public Infrastructure read this article here

What is the Current State of Computer Literacy in India?

  1. As of 2020-21, 24.7% of Indians aged 15 and above are computer literate. This is an increase from 18.4% in 2017-18.
  2. In rural areas, computer literacy rose from 11.1% to 18.1%. In urban areas, it increased from 34.7% to 39.6%.
  3. Kerala has the highest computer literacy rate at 72.7% for ages 20-39. Assam has the lowest rate at 17.6%.
  4. Disparities exist, with economically disadvantaged states like Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan having rates below 30%.

What is the Importance of Computer Literacy?

  1. Access to Services: Computer literacy enables individuals to utilize essential digital services such as online banking, healthcare management, and government services, improving their quality of life.
  2. Educational Benefits: During the COVID-19 pandemic, computer and internet access were crucial for online education and ordering daily necessities.
  3. Employment Opportunities: According to studies, adults with computer skills have higher employment rates (72.7%) compared to those without (52.5%). This suggests that computer literacy enhances employability and productivity.
  4. Economic Impact: Regions with higher computer literacy, like Kerala, show better socio-economic development compared to states with lower literacy rates, demonstrating a correlation between computer skills, employment probability, and earnings.

What Challenges Does India Face in Improving Computer Literacy?

  1. Infrastructure Shortfalls: Many educational institutions in India lack the necessary facilities and qualified instructors to deliver effective computer education, limiting student access to essential digital skills.
  2. Generational Divide: Older individuals often show less interest in learning new technologies, contributing to lower computer literacy rates among these age groups.
  3. Economic and Geographical Gaps: States with economic challenges have markedly lower computer literacy rates, which hinders equitable access to digital opportunities and deepens social inequalities.

How Can India Improve Computer Literacy?

  1. Enhance School Programs: Schools should ensure all students graduate with computer literacy skills, addressing current gaps in access and instruction.
  2. Invest in Infrastructure: The government should allocate resources for better computer facilities and training of qualified personnel in schools and colleges.
  3. Target Adult Education: Implement targeted programs for the older population, involving local governing bodies and NGOs, to improve computer literacy outside the formal education system.
  4. Focus on Disadvantaged States: Special initiatives in economically disadvantaged states like Assam and Bihar can help bridge the digital divide and promote inclusive growth.

Question for practice:

Examine the current state of computer literacy in India and its impact on employment opportunities, highlighting the disparities between rural and urban areas.

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