Covid-19 exposed the global digital divide

On 29th October 2020 I was invited to deliver a lightning talk as part of the virtual 2020 Global Youth Economic Opportunities Summit (GYEO) closing event exploring “Reimagining Youth Economic Opportunity in a Post-Pandemic World”. My talk focussed on what the Covid pandemic means for Education Technology and Inclusion.

Sitting in the driveway of a fastfood restaurant just to catch a free wifi signal. Sharing a cellphone among three siblings to access online courses and yet the screen is too small to do homework on. Waiting for wifi mounted on school buses that will not be available for at least five days after online school starts. Making tough choices between food, electricity or staying connected. These experiences are happening every single day during the pandemic – in the United States.

For years, research from the majority world has raised the alarm that techno-optimism largely originating from North America and Europe was having unintended consequences for international youth development, especially in the education sector. There were laptops for every child – that didn’t work; school computer labs with state of the art equipment – with no connectivity or internet to operate; broadband that was becoming more widespread – yet was and remains extremely unaffordable for the people who need it most. Now, the chickens have come home to roost. The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed just how broad the digital divide is, and that this divide is not just limited to so-called developing nations.

Watch my full talk here to understand how the Covid-19 pandemic is affecting youth education around the world.

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