Money can’t buy me digital literacy

10 Dec 2021 09:45h - 11:15h

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When we’re talking about economic and social inclusion in the field of digital literacy, the digital divide cannot be ignored. This session highlighted that prevention of digital exclusion is a work in progress that goes beyond access and is a shared responsibility of various stakeholders to ensure an equal and safe Internet for all citizens.

A study by the Global Kids Online Project called the COVID Underline Team project showed that while children had access to the internet there were many inequalities. They also felt that the level of education was better before the pandemic. What kids these days want is child-friendly digital resources and a digital environment that is a catalyst to their rights and their expression and their education.

Young people felt they were not taken seriously enough. For example when they report issues on instagram they get robotic replies. Their other priorities include a robust education system and accessibility. They want governments to stabilise the cost of laptops and tablets within schools with adequate connectivity.

The Greek Safer Internet Center has started projects to support poor and refugee children. With the help of 40 NGOs from Greece, they trained facilitators who could train the children with digital skills. One of the major challenges was giving them content in their own language. To bridge the digital divide for poor children, they are working with different municipalities of Greece to train the trainer and with material in their language. 

In Brazil, misinformation, gender based violence online and lack of digital literacy are the consequences of a fragmented digital access policy. 

An youth project by ITU in Africa showed that African youth feel the internet is an auxiliary to the rich. Hence they want governments to recognise it as a basic human right like water, electricity, transport, etc.  Access to digital infrastructure is the primary problem in Africa fuelling the digital divide. The second problem is affordability of both devices and connectivity.

Hence they want governments, private sector, civil society, to come together to have a holistic approach on infrastructure to extend connectivity to the hard-to-reach areas. And then focus on digital skill building.

While money is necessary to provide infrastructure and devices, that alone cannot bridge the digital gap. It has to be complemented with the right trainers and teachers for digital skills.

Some ways in which digital literacy can be accelerated once the primary problem is addressed: 

  • Creation of communities with local ambassadors that help promote digital services in schools, communities, and help address digital literacy in their countries.  
  • Create multistakeholder collaboration and partnership platforms to holistically address the digital skills gaps by giving youth access to digital skills training problems not only for schools and online training but to be expanded to include in-person training and trainers for citizens and peer-to-peer ebbing changes, and establish sustainable digital hubs with free Internet and computer access and stable electricity to enable the youth to have access to different digital opportunities ranging from online training programs to online jobs. 
  •  Digital hubs, that will motivate youth to develop innovative solutions to communities and transfer digital skills to other youth in their communities. 
  • Provide an enabling environment, policies and regulations for youth for all back.

By Mili Semlani

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