More than 1 billion children are at risk of falling behind due to school closures aimed at containing the spread of COVID-19. To keep the world’s children learning, countries have been implementing remote education programmes. Yet many of the world’s children – particularly those in poorer households – do not have internet access, personal computers, TVs or even radio at home, amplifying the effects of existing learning inequalities. Students lacking access to the technologies needed for home-based learning have limited means to continue their education. As a result, many face the risk of never returning to school, undoing years of progress made in education around the world.

With school closures across 188 countries (as of April 2020), many of them are exploring alternative ways to provide continuous education using technologies such as Internet, TV, and radio. However, access to these technologies is limited in many low- and middle-income countries, especially among poor households.

  • While more than 90 per cent of the countries adopted digital and/or broadcast remote learning policies, only 60 per cent did so for pre-primary education. [†]
  • Policy measures taken by the governments to ensure learning continuity through broadcast or digital media allowed for potentially reaching 69 per cent of schoolchildren (at maximum) in pre-primary to secondary education globally.[†]
  • 31 per cent of schoolchildren worldwide (463 million) cannot be reached by the broadcast- and Internet-based remote learning policies either due to the lack of necessary technological assets at home, or because they were not targeted by the adopted policies. [†]
  • Online platforms were the most used means by the governments to deliver education while schools remain closed, with 83 per cent of countries using this method. However, this allowed for potentially reaching only about a quarter of schoolchildren worldwide. [†]
  • Television had the potential to reach the most students (62 per cent) globally.
  • Only 16 per cent of schoolchildren could be reached by radio-based learning worldwide. [†]
  • Globally, 3 out of 4 students who cannot be reached by the remote learning policies come from rural areas and/or belong to the poorest households. [†]

Considering these data, it is important that countries do not rely on any single remote learning channel to reach all children. Additionally, expanding access to Internet and other digital solutions for all children would be one key long-term priority to reduce learning vulnerabilities.

 

Resources on education and COVID-19

 

Dashboards

  • EduView – a dashboard that provides education data on policy responses to COVID-19, assets for remote learning, sanitation and hygiene facilities in schools, scope of school closures, as well as number of affected students. The dashboard also provides an overview of the vast number of education indicators on key topics such as attendance, system efficiency, early childhood development, learning, equity, monitoring of the SDG4 education targets, and more.
  • Rapid situation tracking for COVID-19 socioeconomic impacts – a dashboard tracking some of the indirect socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19, including those in education. It is based on recent data collection efforts from UNICEF Country Offices and UNICEF National Committees that entails a survey of over 100 questions.

 

Policy briefs, reports, and factsheets

 

Blog posts