Two-thirds of all school age kids lack internet access for online classes: UN report
Two-thirds of all the children of school age across the world don’t have access to the internet at home, which is essential for school education amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, a report submitted by the United Nations stated on Tuesday.
The UN report stated that most of the children across the world don’t have access to the internet at home even as pandemic-induced school closures have made online access vital to getting an education.
In all, an estimated 1.3 billion children between the ages of three and 17 do not have internet connections in their homes, said the joint report from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
The UN report also stated that the lack of internet access is similar across the youths and young adults of the world. The report said that 63 percent of all 15 to 24-year-olds are unconnected to the internet at home.
Lack of internet costing children their future: UN
UNICEF Chief Henrietta Fore, while talking about the findings of the report, said, “That so many children and young people have no internet at home is more than a digital gap, it is a digital canyon. Lacking connectivity prevents young people from competing in the modern economy. It isolates them from the world.”
She also said that the findings of the report are particularly worrying, especially at a time when school closures due to the Covid-19 pandemic remain widespread, forcing hundreds of millions of students to rely on virtual learning.
The report cautioned that even before the pandemic struck, the digital divide was deepening inequalities, allowing children from the poorest households and from rural or low-income countries to fall ever further behind their peers with little chance to catch up.
‘Connecting rural population a challenge’
The report by UNICEF further found that fewer than one in 20 school-age children from low-income countries had access to the internet at home, compared to nine out of 10 in wealthier nations. Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia are the regions where children are least able to get online, with a full nine out of 10 children without internet access at home.
The findings state that 60 percent of children living in urban settings don’t have an internet connection at home, as compared to 75 percent of children in rural areas, which states that there are clear differences between internet access in towns and cities and in the countryside.
“Connecting rural populations remains a formidable challenge,” ITU chief Houlin Zhao said in the statement. The report warned that even in homes with an internet connection, children may not actually be able to get online.
Girls have lesser access to internet: Report
According to the report, the findings point to pressure to do chores or to work, lack of sufficient devices in households, and also cautioned that girls may have less access to the internet than boys.
When it comes to the worldwide usage of the internet in 2019, 55 percent of males and 48 percent of females were using the internet but the differences are far starker in low-income countries and in poorer regions.
In Africa, for instance, 37 percent of men and boys and only 20 percent of women and girls were using the internet last year, ITU data showed.