NSEE senior researchers, Stuart Hall and Kevin Lowden, along with their University of Glasgow School of Education colleague, Stephen McKinney recently contributed a paper to the Scottish Education Research Association’s poverty network special bulletin.
The paper entitled The Challenges to Digital Inclusion discussed the serious concerns around online learning and teaching, and the extent of digital exclusion.
The paper follows more than 12 months of restricted access to school buildings for most. UNICEF has pointed out that more than 1.6 billion children worldwide were affected by the closures, and only one third of children and young people throughout the world have access to the internet at home—with some countries where very few children have internet access.
The paper points out there is a stark contrast between low- and high-income countries, where 87 percent of children and young people in high income countries have access, compared to 6 percent and lower in low-income countries.
Educational systems can only move to online provision successfully if certain conditions are met – devices are available when needed and are fully functional and that there is regular and uninterrupted internet access. Teachers need to be competent in the use of tech and have the skills to deliver lessons online, and pupils need to have adapted to the new modes of education delivery.
In January of this year, UNESCO called for the roll out of a serious educational recovery package, which aims to set out a more resilient, green and inclusive trajectory. To build resilience to future shocks, the digital divide must be narrowed, and connectivity and electrification extended throughout the world.