A new computer laboratory model developed by UNICEF aims at reducing digital divide in Georgia
Makhuntseti, Georgia. 25 September, 2021 - Children in Makhuntseti, Keda municipality will benefit from a new computer laboratory model piloted in the local public school with support from UNICEF in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sports of Adjara. The laboratory concept envisages the development of a new vision for the existing school computer labs, which aims at reducing digital inequality and involving students with no access to the internet and electronic devices in the learning process.
As per the new laboratory concept, Makhuntseti public school will identify students with no access to the internet and electronic devices and create spaces for these children to use the resources available at school for the learning process, be it attending online classes or working on their homework.
"We do hope the new model of computer laboratories will contribute to the reduction of digital divide in Georgia." - Ghassan Khalil
“Connectivity can be a game-changer for the most marginalized children”, said Ghassan Khalil, UNICEF Representative in Georgia. “Digital technologies are bringing opportunities for learning and education to children, especially in remote and mountainous regions. Digital technologies can also deliver economic opportunities by providing young people with training and job-matching skills. Schools must recognize their role as education providers and provide internet and learning resources to children who do not have access to the internet or electronic devices. We do hope the new model of computer laboratories will contribute to the reduction of digital divide in Georgia”, added Khalil.
The first such lab, established in the mountainous village in Adjara will serve as a pilot model to be further developed as a digital hub for students, providing development of digital skills with the involvement of various specialists in the laboratory. UNICEF, with support from the government of Norway delivered seven tablets to the school, to strengthen the capacity of the lab where teachers and students will be able to develop the skills needed for the 21st century. The new model computer lab can serve as a youth center in the remote areas where there are no spaces for young people to gather and engage in non-formal education activities.
Makhuntseti public school will ensure management of the lab - regulating shifts, monitoring inventory usage and supporting the students using the lab. Later in the year the model will be replicated in Bakhvi public school in Guria and in the period of 2021-2022, the concept will be recommended to all public schools in Georgia as a successful model designed to include children without internet and electronic devices in the educational process.
COVID-19 pandemic has affected children and young people globally. With schools moving to online education, children and their learning opportunities were seriously impacted. With online classes and homeschooling, life has especially changed for the vulnerable and disadvantaged, with no access to online learning platforms due to a lack of gadgets and internet connection. The digital divide is one of the key elements to unequal access to education for children in Georgia, with almost 50,400 children left behind with no computer and internet connection.
To address this issue, UNICEF Georgia developed a one-year advocacy strategy to reduce the digital divide and promote equal access to education. UNICEF advocates for improved policies on giving equal access to online education for all children across the country by raising awareness of stakeholders and the public on the existing digital gap and by developing platforms for cooperation between public institutions, academia, business, and civil society to provide equal learning opportunities for every child in Georgia. The new model of school computer labs is part of this strategy.
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/