Human Rights Watch inquiries impact of COVID-19 on education and children’s services

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) submitted an inquiry to the UK Parliament Education Committee into the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education and children’s services. The submission hinges on HRW’s research findings and concerns vis-à-vis free school meals, food insecurity, and ensuring children’s right to food; the digital exclusion of some teachers and students; and the impact of the pandemic on children with disabilities. Concerning digital exclusion, HRW found that the digital divide had an adverse impact on some children’s remote learning and accentuated two observations for the Education Committee. First, effective distance learning requires access to capable devices and reliable, affordable Internet access. Second, as children moved to remote learning during COVID-19, education technology platforms collected vast, unprecedented amounts of children’s personal data, putting children’s data protection and privacy rights at risk. To this aim, it recommended the government urgently assess the gap in digital connectivity for children, undertaking rapid and comprehensive data collection to understand and address the scope and scale of the problem.