Without ambitious action, we’re on course to miss the target to connect everyone to the internet by decades.
While those who negotiated the SDGs understood the importance of internet access, COVID-19 underscores like never before how fundamental the internet has become to people’s lives and to achieving all the global goals.
As classrooms closed, online learning came to the rescue, with virtual lessons bringing some semblance of normality for millions of children stuck at home. For many, it was still tough: when your connection isn’t strong enough, or you can’t afford enough data, or your family shares a single device, learning online ranges from extremely difficult to impossible. Namitha Narayanan, a student in India, hit headlines when studying for hours each day on her parents’ roof because it was the only place she could get a good enough mobile signal.
For others, the door to learning was slammed shut. A recent report from UNICEF found at least a third of the world’s children don’t have the technology they need for remote learning. If we’re to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for all” (goal 4) we have to make sure children everywhere can get online.
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