Youth celebrate the first ever International Day for Digital Learning

Today is the first ever International Day for Digital Learning. We are thrilled to be partnering with Restless Development, the Global Student Forum and the SDG 4 Youth and Students Network to mark this day and give a voice to those who are increasingly using digital technology for learning: youth and students from around the globe.

A webinar this afternoon will bring together youth leaders in each region with a key representative from a respective organization working on education: ALECSO in the Arab States, ADEA in Africa, the European Commission, and UNICEF in Latin America will be matched with a young speaker from their region. They will discuss the reflections of young people on the role of technology in digital learning that have emerged during the global consultations for the youth edition of the 2023 GEM Report.

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The 2023 GEM Report argues that education systems should always ensure that learners’ interests are placed at the centre. Digital technology should be used to support an education based on human interaction rather than aiming at substituting it. The report also called for learners to be consulted for all decisions involving the use of technology in education to ensure relevance and effectiveness. It is this recommendation that is the basis of making youth voices the theme of this first International Day for Digital Learning.

For digital learning to be human-centred, it must not leave any learner behind. In order to track progress on that priority, countries have been asked to state their commitments on connecting schools to the internet, which is now the eighth SDG 4 benchmark indicator. Among the one third of countries globally that have set a national target, 69% of primary schools were connected to the internet in 2015. The 2024 SDG 4 Scorecard shows that they have progressed almost fast enough to meet their commitment of to ensuring that 87% of will be connected to the internet by 2025 and 92% by 2030.

School internet connectivity UIS and GEM Report

But while 95% of high-income countries are moving fast towards their target, only 42% of lower-middle-income countries and no low-income country are. Achieving even just a basic level of digital transformation in every low- and lower-middle-income country comes with costs. The 2023 GEM Report found that it would cost USD 1 billion per day just to maintain connectivity for education. A reality check on our aspirations for digital learning is also therefore needed.

How can we ensure that more learners can celebrate each year when the International Day for Digital Learning comes around? If you are a young person, join us this afternoon and share your views!

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