Digital divide in education
The Covid-19 crisis has created the biggest experiment of digitalization and teleworking. With all the people at home to protect themselves from the virus, employees have to telecommuting and children’s education has been cancelled. But why children cannot continue their education from their homes with all the technology we have nowadays? Due to the digital divide. At least, this is what is happening in Spain these days.
A digital divide is any uneven distribution in the access to, use of, or impact of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) between any number of distinct groups -groups that may be defined based on social, geographical or geopolitical criteria, or otherwise-. Because of ICT high cost, its adoption and utilization is very different across the world.
A few weeks ago, when all the schools and educative centres closed because of the coronavirus crisis, the Minister of Education in the Catalonia Government, Josep Bargalló, rejected remote education due to the digital divide between families. “With remote education, we will let outside the students more disadvantaged and we will increase inequality”, he said.
In Spain, while 61% of the students have three or more computers at home, 44% of the students of families more disadvantaged have only one, and 14% not a single one, according to the last PISA report of the OECD. For that reason, the Spanish government has launched educational content on TV in order to make the digital divide softer during the Covid-19 crisis. In addition, about 2,000 students that don’t have Internet at their homes are going to receive, for free, a SIM target so they can continue with their education online with the mobile phone.
But the main issue to solve is reducing the digital divide in education. According to a BBVA report (2018), the main factor that determines the use of the Internet is living in a house with access to the network. In Spain, 16,6% of homes don’t have access to the Internet for economic reasons (high cost of equipment and/or connectivity) and educational reasons (lack of knowledge). For that reason, it is necessary that governments introduce policies that increase educational level of the population and facilitate economically the access to the network.
In this scenario, DES Academy enables professionals to take part in programs that help them to update their digital knowledge. Because it is not about being born digital, but about becoming a digital native.