In a world facing a learning crisis, digital learning should be an essential service.
The world is facing a learning crisis. Millions of children and young people are not developing the skills they need to break out of poverty. The growth of technology and the increasingly broad range of actors providing online learning means we can deliver learning opportunities anywhere, at any time.
But more than half of the world’s children and young people are on the wrong side of the digital divide, limiting access to the same opportunities as their connected peers.
The cost of inaction will be high.
The World Bank estimates a loss of US$10 trillion in earnings over the lifetime of this generation of children and young people if urgent action is not taken to address the learning crisis.
We urgently need to reimagine education. A modern education should build and accredit basic skills – reading, writing and math – as well as skills in problem-solving, creativity, critical thinking that young people need for work, to start a business and to engage productively in their communities.
The availability and potential of technology means that digital learning should be part of a basic basket of essential services for every child and young person.
This means connecting every child and young person – some 3.5 billion by 2030 – to world-class digital solutions that offer personalized learning to leapfrog to a brighter future.
Fostering partnerships across public and private sectors – and with young people themselves – is the only way to do this. That is why the Reimagine Education initiative is asking partners to come together in a global movement.
As this revolution advances around the world, UNICEF is calling for:
- The most vulnerable children and young people to be first in line to be connected and have access to quality digital learning;
- Digital learning to be relevant to each individual child and young person, including their level of education and language, and is accessible for children with disabilities;
- Education funding to be protected and for the needs of the most vulnerable children and young people to be prioritised; and
- Decision-makers to maximise innovation, impetus and investment through cross-community collaborations involving governments, businesses, community groups, industry pioneers and more.
The cost of digital learning for every child and young person is approximately US$474.5 billion by 2030 and with lower costs if implementation is at scale. This includes approximately US$7.1 billion for digital learning; US$428 billion for connecting every school to the internet; US$38 billion for devices and US$1.4 billion for engagement of young people. With a committed, global coalition of partners, this is achievable.
Reimagine Education is supported by Generation Unlimited, a global initiative to ensure that the largest generation of young people in history is prepared for the transition to work and engaged citizenship. It requires multi-sector partnerships to expand education, training and employment opportunities for young people on an unprecedented scale. Convened by the UN Secretary-General, Generation Unlimited calls for a movement of world leaders, business partners and civil society to rally investment and put connectivity and digital learning in the hands of every child and young person.