How many children and young people have internet access at home
Estimating digital connectivity during the COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the largest mass disruption of education in history and worsened the global learning crisis. In April 2020, more than 190 countries instituted national school closures, putting up to 1.6 billion students at risk of falling behind at great cost to their education and futures.
In response, ministries of education all over the world have deployed different remote learning policies, and education stakeholders have been inspired to “reimagine education” by harnessing technology to close the persistent gaps in access to education that limit the potential of children and young people around the world.
The digitalization of society has made ICT skills and access to technology important, but the COVID-19 pandemic has turned these things into essential human rights in terms of the educational, social and professional needs of children and young people. The lack of connectivity among the most marginalized populations – children and young people from poor households and rural areas – places them at an extreme disadvantage, and all but eliminates any chance they might have of participating in the modern economy.
To this end, UNICEF has joined forces with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to launch Giga, an ambitious global initiative to connect every school to the internet and every young person to information, opportunity and choice. With the support of Generation Unlimited, UNICEF now works under the Reimagine Education initiative which aims to address the learning crisis and transform education by giving children and young people equal access to quality digital learning.
This report supports these efforts with findings from a first-of-its-kind analysis that delivers critical insights about the vast numbers of children and young people whose education and professional futures are jeopardized by a lack of access to digital technology at home. Today, 2.2 billion children and young people are still unconnected, deprived of the digital technologies and services that have proved so essential during the pandemic. Closing the digital divide will require significant resources, cooperation and dedication. But we must act – the ability of many children and young people to achieve their full potential depends on it.