15 per cent of Georgia’s school-age children have no internet access at home, new UNICEF-ITU report says

The International Telecommunication Union and UNICEF call for urgent investment to bridge a digital divide currently preventing children and young people from accessing quality digital learning and opportunities online

01 December 2020
Internet Access for children
UNICEF/GEO-2020/Tsetskhladze

NEW YORK/GENEVA, 1 December 2020 – 15 per cent of Georgia’s school-age children do not have internet connection in their homes, according to a new joint report from UNICEF and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

The report How Many Children and Youth Have Internet Access at Home? notes that globally two-thirds of school-age children have no internet access at home. There is a similar lack of access among young people aged 15-24 years old, with 759 million or 63 per cent of young people unconnected at home.

 

"Lack of connectivity prevents children and young people from competing in the modern economy." - Ghassan Khalil

 

“Lack of connectivity prevents children and young people from competing in the modern economy.”, said Ghassan Khalil, UNICEF Representative in Georgia. “It isolates them from the world. And in the event of school closures, such as those currently experienced due to COVID-19, it causes them to lose out on education”. Khalil added.

Around 661,500 children are still affected by COVID-19 school closures in Georgia, forcing students to rely on virtual learning. For those with no internet access, education can be out of reach. Even before the pandemic, a growing cohort of young people needed to learn foundational, transferable, digital, job-specific and entrepreneurial skills to compete in the 21st century economy.

The digital divide is perpetuating inequalities that already divide countries and communities, the report notes. Children and young people from the poorest households, rural and lower income states are falling even further behind their peers and are left with very little opportunity to ever catch up.

Globally, among school-age children from richest households, 58 per cent have internet connection at home, compared with only 16 per cent from the poorest households. The same disparity exists across country income level as well. Less than 1 in 20 school-age children from low-income countries have internet connection at home, compared with nearly 9 in 10 from high-income countries.

There are also geographic disparities within countries and across regions. Globally, around 60 per cent of school-age children in urban areas do not have internet access at home, compared with around three-quarters of school-age children in rural households. School-age children in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia are the most affected, with around 9 in 10 children unconnected.

 

Region 

School-age children 3-17 years old unconnected at home

West and Central Africa 

95% - 194 million 

East and Southern Africa 

88%    - 191 million

South Asia 

88% - 449 million

Middle East and North Africa 

75% - 89 million

Latin America and the Caribbean 

49% - 74 million

Eastern Europe and Central Asia 

42% - 36 million

East Asia and the Pacific 

32% - 183 million

Global 

67% - 1.3 billion

 

Last year, UNICEF and ITU launched Giga, a global initiative to connect every school and its surrounding community to the Internet. Working with governments, Giga has now mapped over 800,000 schools in 30 countries. With this data, Giga works with governments, industry, civil sector, and private sector partners to craft compelling investment cases for blended public-private funding to build the connectivity infrastructure needed to deploy digital learning solutions and other services.

The initiative is now collaborating under the Reimagine Education initiative and in coordination with Generation Unlimited. Through its Reimagine Education initiative, UNICEF aims to address the learning crisis and transform education by giving children and young people equal access to quality digital learning. A key to achieving this is universal internet connectivity.

Building on these efforts and on the importance of youth engagement, Generation Connect is an initiative launched by ITU to empower young people to engage and participate in the digital world. 

Although the numbers in the UNICEF-ITU report present an alarming picture, the situation is likely worse due to compounding factors, such as affordability, safety and low levels of digital skills. According to the latest ITU data, low digital skills remain a barrier to meaningful participation in a digital society, while mobile telephony and internet access remain too expensive for many in the developing world as the result of vast disparities in purchasing power.

Even when children have a connection at home, they may not be able to access it because of the pressure to do chores or to work, lack of sufficient devices in the households, girls being permitted less or no internet access, or a lack of understanding of how to access opportunities online. There are also issues related to online safety since parents may be inadequately prepared to keep their children safe.

 



Learn more from the report: How many children and young people have internet access at home

Media contacts

Maya Kurtsikidze
Communication Officer
UNICEF Georgia

About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org/georgia/

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