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  • Tanaporn Rachiwong, a 10-year-old Thai girl from a low income family, reads to practice education lessons as she has no internet access for new online learning classes at a house in Klong Toey slum community in Bangkok, Thailand, 18 May 2020.

    Tanaporn Rachiwong, a 10-year-old Thai girl from a low income family, reads to practice education lessons as she has no internet access for new online learning classes at a house in Klong Toey slum community in Bangkok, Thailand, 18 May 2020. | Photo: EFE/EPA Rungroj Yongrit

Published 27 August 2020
Opinion

According to UNICEF´s latest report which gathers data from 100 nations, about 40 percent of countries did not provide remote learning opportunities at the pre-primary level of education.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) warned about a global education emergency on Thursday since at least a third of the world's schoolchildren have been unable to access remote learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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UNICEF's Executive Director Henrietta Ford explained that "for at least 463 million children whose schools closed due to COVID-19, there was no such thing as remote learning."

"The sheer number of children whose education was completely disrupted for months on end is a global education emergency. The repercussions could be felt in economies and societies for decades to come," the official added.

According to UNICEF's latest report, which gathers data from 100 nations, about 40 percent of countries did not provide remote learning opportunities at the pre-primary level of education. 

As a result, globally, at least 31 percent of students from pre-primary to upper-secondary schools cannot access proper instruction either because of a lack of policies supporting digital and broadcast remote learning or unavailability of the household assets needed to receive digital or broadcast instruction.

The organization explains that rurality and poverty are one of the leading causes of remote learning limitations, alongside the limited focus on pre-primary education and regional discrepancies. At a global level, over 70 percent of students who cannot be reached live in rural areas, and over three-quarters come from the poorest 40 percent of households.

Eastern and Southern Africa had the highest minimum share of students who cannot be reached, with over 49 percent.

On the other hand, Latin America had the lowest amount of students unable the get remote-access learning, at almost 9 percent.

However, the organization remarks that after UNICEF offices conducted surveys in countries such as Argentina, Bolivia, Panama, Paraguay, and Ecuador, the results revealed "large gaps in access to electronic devices like computers or mobile phones, and to internet connections or other modalities of distance education, particularly in poor and rural areas."

Furthermore, with 147 million, South Asia is the region with the highest concentrations of students who cannot access remote learning, followed by East Asia and the Pacific with 80 million; Eastern and Southern Africa with 67 million and West and Central Africa with 54 million.

Ahead of the starting of the academic year in many countries despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the UNICEF warns that the situation is likely far worse.

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