'200mn kids live in nations not ready for remote learning in future emergencies'
Of 67 countries assessed, 31 were not ready to provide remote learning at all levels of education, with school children in West and Central Africa most affected
At least 200 million school children live in 31 low- and middle-income countries that remain unprepared to deploy remote learning in future emergency school closures, according to a new Unicef report.
Among that group of students, 102 million live in 14 countries that have kept their schools fully or partially closed for at least half of the Covid-19 pandemic locking many children out of any kind of education.
The Remote Learning Readiness Index measures countries' readiness to deliver remote learning in response to disruptions of in-person education, covering almost 90 per cent of students in low- and lower-middle-income countries.
The analysis focuses on three domains: the availability of home-based assets and parents' education levels; deployment of policies and training for teachers; and the education sector's preparedness for emergencies.
Benin, Burundi, Cote d'Ivoire, Congo, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger and Togo are among the countries with the most significant need for improvement within the education sector, according to the report.
Of 67 countries assessed, 31 were not ready to provide remote learning at all levels of education, with school children in West and Central Africa most affected.
Of the 31 countries, 23 also face high or extremely high exposure to climate and environmental shocks, putting 196 million school children at greater risk of school disruptions in emergencies.
Meanwhile, the report added that Argentina, Barbados, Jamaica, and the Philippines had the highest level of readiness.
"Even in the midst of an ongoing emergency, we know there will be another one, but we aren't making enough progress to ensure the next time students are forced out of the classroom, they have better options," said Henrietta Fore, Unicef Executive Director.
"While disruptive, the past 19 months have given us a glimpse of what is possible during and after the pandemic. Together with partners, we have been hard at work to leverage the power of technology and to provide learning opportunities for children and young people everywhere."