COVID-19: At least a third of the world’s school children unable to access remote learning during school closures, new report says

COVID-19 Impacts – Education

COVID-19: At least a third of the world’s school children unable to access remote learning during school closures, new report says
UNICEF’s Reimagine campaign calls for urgent investment to bridge the digital divide, reach every child with remote learning, and, most critically, prioritize the safe reopening of schools

NEW YORK, 27 August 2020 – At least a third of the world’s schoolchildren – 463 million children globally – were unable to access remote learning when COVID-19 shuttered their schools, according to a new UNICEF report released today as countries across the world grapple with their ‘back-to-school’ plans.

“For at least 463 million children whose schools closed due to COVID-19, there was no such a thing as remote learning,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. “The sheer number of children whose education was completely disrupted for months on end is a global education emergency. The repercussions could be felt in economies and societies for decades to come.”

At the height of nationwide and local lockdowns, around 1.5 billion schoolchildren were affected by school closures. The report outlines the limitations of remote learning and exposes deep inequalities in access.

The report uses a globally representative analysis on the availability of home-based technology and tools needed for remote learning among pre-primary, primary, lower-secondary and upper-secondary schoolchildren, with data from 100 countries. Data include access to television, radio and internet, and the availability of curriculum delivered across these platforms during school closures.

Although the numbers in the report present a concerning picture on the lack of remote learning during school closures, UNICEF warns the situation is likely far worse. Even when children have the technology and tools at home, they may not be able to learn remotely through those platforms due to competing factors in the home including pressure to do chores, being forced to work, a poor environment for learning and lack of support in using the online or broadcast curriculum.

The report highlights significant inequality across regions…

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Ericsson and UNICEF launch global partnership to map school internet connectivity
Three-year initiative to identify connectivity gaps in 35 countries is a critical first step in connecting every school to the internet
NEW YORK/STOCKHOLM, 26 August 2020 – Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) and UNICEF announced today a global partnership to help map school connectivity in 35 countries by the end of 2023. Mapping the internet connectivity landscape for schools and their surrounding communities is a critical first step towards providing every child with access to digital learning opportunities.

This joint effort is part of the Giga initiative. Launched last year and led by UNICEF and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Giga aims to connect every school to the internet. Ericsson is the first private sector partner to make a multi-million dollar commitment to the initiative and does so as a Global UNICEF Partner for School Connectivity Mapping.

According to the ITU, 360 million young people currently do not have access to the internet. This results in exclusion, fewer resources to learn, and limited opportunities for the most vulnerable children and youth to fulfill their potential. Improved connectivity will increase access to information, opportunity, and choice, enabling generations of school children to take part in shaping their own futures.

“The deepening digital divide is one of the many inequalities that the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored,” said Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, Deputy Executive Director, Partnerships, UNICEF. “School closures, coupled with limited or non-existent opportunities for remote learning, have upended children’s education worldwide..