We cannot achieve access to quality education without first obtaining technology equity in schools – Digital Divide
Technology has become a crucial part of our lives today, paving the way for a large window of opportunities for all people. And in recent years, our eyes have opened to its impact on students and schools. Students can now learn, work, research, collaborate, and independently develop knowledge largely because of the advent of the internet and information technology.- Digital Divide
However, although technology has offered many benefits, it does come with its problems. In the case of education, that includes the digital divide.
The digital divide refers to the inability of all to have equal access to technology in order to experience learning, where the wealthy have this access, and those from middle- and low-income backgrounds do not. This technology includes hardware such as mobile devices, televisions, and personal computers, as well as connectivity to the internet, such as access to data and Wi-Fi.
It also includes the inequality in being able to use technological equipment and resources in the first place.
Every student is entitled to have adequate access to educational resources and support services to improve their academic performance. Recently, however, the education sector has felt the immensity of the digital divide, with half of the 1.5 billion students affected by the COVID-19 pandemic lacking access to computers and the internet. This is despite a global need to adopt remote learning in order to adhere to social distancing protocols.
As of September 2021, according to UNESCO, about 117 million students were still out of school due to mandated lockdowns. The impact of the digital divide continues to be felt globally, as 1.3 billion school-age children around the world do not have internet at home to access learning resources. This is especially evident in low-income communities, like those in sub-Saharan Africa — where 71% of teachers are unable to access tools, resources, and internet for remote learning and 89% of learners do not have a computer at home.
Students who lack access to digital tools and connectivity are more likely to miss out on up-to-date information from the web, essential education milestones, and access to resources, tools, and edutainment.
This lack of access has the potential to affect children for the rest of their lives, as according to Business Insider, without quality remote education, they will not have the same access to quality jobs.
The increasing gap in the digital divide has significantly undermined access and delivery of education. As we start a new year, here are six initiatives that can help improve — and even possibly eliminate — the technology gaps in education globally.