United Nations: Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread school closures, at least a third of affected students globally do not have access to virtual education, according to a UN study released Wednesday.
In total, an estimated 463 million children have neither the equipment nor electronic access to pursue distance education, according to the UNICEF report.
“The large number of children whose education has been completely interrupted for months is a global educational emergency,” Henrietta Fore, executive director of the United Nations Children’s Fund, said in a statement.
“The repercussions could be felt in economies and societies for decades to come,” she said.
The UN estimates that 1.5 billion children worldwide have been affected by lockdowns or school closings caused by the pandemic.
The report highlighted the gaping geographic differences in children’s access to distance education, with far fewer problems in Europe, for example, than in Africa or parts of Asia.
The UN report is based on data collected from around 100 countries, measuring public access to the Internet, television and radio.
Even children with adequate access can face other barriers to distance learning – from lack of a good workspace at home, to pressure to do other work for family or lack of technical support in case of computer problems, according to the UNICEF report.
Major safe reopening of schools
Of the students around the world who do not have access to virtual education, 67 million are in East and Southern Africa, 54 million in West and Central Africa, 80 million in the Pacific and East Asia, 37 million in the Middle East and North Africa, 147 million in South Asia and 13 million in Latin America and the Caribbean.
No figures were given for the United States or Canada.
As the new school year begins soon in many countries – including face-to-face classes in many locations – UNICEF has urged governments to “prioritize the safe reopening of schools when they begin to relax. lock restrictions “.
Where reopening is impossible, governments should organize “compensatory learning for lost teaching time,” the report said.