Breaking news FEATURES

40% of children didn’t have access to distance education in North Africa and the Middle East (Unicef)

Written by FDM

A few days before the start of the school year, a new report produced by Unicef warns of inequalities in access to remote education. Indeed, according to the data collected, at least 40% of children did not have access to it when schools were closed in North Africa and the Middle East.

Roughly one- third of students worldwide did not have access to distance education when schools were closed, according to a new report from Unicef. In North Africa and the Middle East, this figure rises to at least 40%, or 37 million children minimum…

“Considering the sheer number of children whose education has been completely disrupted for months, we are facing a global educational emergency that could impact economies and societies for decades “, Underlined Henrietta Fore, general director of Unicef in a press release.

In this report, the authors rely on a globally representative analysis of the presence of technologies and tools required for distance education in homes for preschool, elementary, junior, and senior students. The data is collected from 100 countries and covers access to television, radio, and the Internet, also whether or not a program was taught through these platforms when schools were closed. In short, the figures transcribed in the report draws a worrying picture concerning the absence of distance education when schools were closed, knowing that the UN antenna considers that the situation is probably much more serious.

Indeed, as the organization indicates, even when children have the necessary technology and tools at home, distance learning is not always possible due to other factors such as pressure to complete domestic tasks, the obligation to work, an inappropriate environment, or even the lack of help to follow the online courses. It was also noted that the most affected students are children from the poorest households and those living in rural areas.

To prevent the COVID-19 pandemic from worsening a lasting crisis for children,  the UNICEF Framework for the Reopening of Schools, published in collaboration with Unesco, UNHCR, WFP, and the World Bank, a series of practical tips for national and local authorities. Recommendations that focus on policy reforms, funding requirements, safe operation, learning that compensates for lost hours, well-being, and protection as well as the inclusion of the most marginalized children.

In other words, investing in education is urgent and essential in order to reduce the digital divide, thus enabling every child to access distance education, and, above all, making the safe reopening of schools a priority.