Two-thirds of school-age children have no internet access at home even as the COVID-19 pandemic makes online education the only possible access to education, the UN said on Tuesday.
In total, 1.3 billion children aged 3 to 17 do not have an Internet connection at home, specifies a joint report by Unicef and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU ).
For the 15-24 age group, the percentage of those who do not have internet access at home is 63%.
“The fact that so many children do not have internet access at home is no longer a digital divide, but a canyon,” said Unicef official Henrietta Fore.
Not being able to go online deprives these young people of the means “to compete in the modern economy.” It isolates them from the world, ”she added.
This situation is particularly serious at a time when the pandemic has prompted many countries to temporarily close schools and switch teaching online.
“To put it bluntly: the lack of access to the internet robs the next generations of their future,” said Ms. Fore.
The report points out that even before COVID-19, the digital divide was part of growing inequalities, making it difficult for children deprived of access to catch up.
According to the UN, 1 in 20 school-age children are connected at home in low-income countries, compared to 9 in 10 in rich countries.
The worst-off countries are in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia where only 10% of children can connect at home.