The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday held that amid the COVID-19 lockdown, it is the duty of the State to provide technology and devices to children in rural areas in the spirit of Article 21A of the Constitution, so that their education is not interrupted. ."In the spirit of Article 21A of the Constitution, education must be imparted to children till 14 years as it is their fundamental right and the obligation is on the state to provide access to education through means of technology amid COVID-19. If such steps not taken for these children, there would be failure in ensuring the fundamental rights of such children under Article 21A of the Constitution," a Division Bench headed by Justice BV Nagarathna held..The Court passed an order to this effect in a PIL seeking directions to the government to provide laptops, tablets, and other digital resources free of cost to enable school children belonging to economically weaker sections to attend online classes..During the hearing, counsel for the State government informed the Court that he had filed a status report on June 4. The Court was informed that the new academic year would begin by July 1, 2021. The Court was further informed that schools will collect and compile data into three categories: students with internet facility, laptops, television and cable facilities; students with only televisions; and students without any gadgets. .The State government also submitted that about 20% of students do not have any access to technology to enable them to participate in virtual education.Appearing for the petitioner, Advocate Harish Narasappa submitted that this percentage might be much higher.In the circumstances, a direction for collection of data on access to technology is required, opined the Court. .The Court also highlighted that if such families include girl children, then amid the lack of proper functioning of schools, they may be forced to marry in rural areas.This apart, threats such child trafficking, child labour, begging or other such activities, which is totally against the interest of such children, also seem to lurk in the absence of proper schooling amid the COVID-19 lockdown, Justice Nagarathna observed..Keeping this aspect in mind, the Court directed the State to inform ways and means in which these children will be provided technology to further the cause of their education..Children who don't have access to technology will be left out, says Court.Opining that lack of education affects not only the families and the State, but also the child, the Court said that a child who does have any means to technology may feel "left out", while other children owning technical devices may be in a position to attend classes. ."Such discrimination cannot be accepted. Hence, concrete steps have to be taken to ensure that all the children in rural areas have access to technology, so that they are not outside the the education system.".As the matter drew to a close, the Court cited the example of how courts adapted to virtual hearings in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. "See how courts have expanded now. We have not closed down....Likewise, education must not be disrupted. You must have these ideas, these innovations (continuing schools in virtual mode) must come from experts.".The matter will be next heard on July 12.