Home Today's Paper Most Popular Video Gallery Photo Gallery
Subscription Blog Signin Register
Logo
Saturday, June 6, 2020 10:24:18 AM
Follow Us On: Facebook Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter

Digital Divide Wider Amid Global Lockdown

By
19th-May-2020       
Share
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Save
  • E-mail
  • Print
Comments
Share your thought
Post a comment »
Read all () »

Samira Sadeque:
The digital divide has become more pronounced than ever amid the global coronavirus lockdown, but experts are concerned that in the current circumstances this divide, where over 46 percent of the world's population remain without technology or internet access, could grow wider - particularly among women.  
"There were already deep divides in access to technologies including the internet and medical technologies, before COVID-19 began to spread," Astra Bonini, Senior Sustainable Development Officer at the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), told IPS. "The digital divide has been closing, but over 46 percent of people are still without access and among women, the rate is lower with over half of all women offline."
Exposing an already existing problem
The glaring lack of access to technology and the internet is only building on pre-existing inequalities between communities on matters of income, wealth, access to healthcare, electricity and clean water, living and working conditions, access to social protection and quality education, Bonini pointed out.
How people are able to cope with the crisis depends heavily on the community they belong to, and where they stand with regards to the factors stated above. In essence, it begs the question: given social distancing is a key measure to contain the virus, and online access is the main way to stay connected, which communities have the tools to survive this pandemic?
"With the need for high capacity healthcare systems and a nearly overnight transition to internet-based services, including remote learning and telemedicine, inequalities in access to technologies will leave people out and inhibit the options they have for getting healthcare and medical treatment, as well as for accessing distance learning and online information about reducing exposure to COVID-19," Bonini told IPS.
And the divide is not just being exposed when it comes to educational access. Other issues such as access to medical technologies, including ventilators and protective equipment are also "very unequal across geographies," Bonini said.
Bonini was one of the speakers at the "Strengthening Science and Technology and Addressing Inequalities" webinar organised by UN DESA on Wednesday, May 6. Also featured were Maria Francesca Spatolisano, Shantanu Mukherjee, Deniz Susar, Marta Roig of UN DESA, as well as Fabrizio Hochschild-Drummond, the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the Preparations for the Commemoration of the U.N.'s 75th Anniversary.
The topic of discussion was how science and technology can be implemented to address the current pandemic.  
In an interview with IPS, Susar, governance and public administration officer at UN DESA, pointed out that an estimate 3.6 billion of the world's 7.8 billion people remain offline today, with the majority of them in underdeveloped countries.
"Connecting them to the internet is not an easy job; it is not also a task only for governments, but the private sector," he told IPS. "Cooperation is needed."
Only 30 percent of low-income countries are able to provide digital training access for their students, which is a testament to the experts Bonini pointed out.
A recent launch of the "Learning Passport" initiative brought this issue further to light. While it was launched to make classrooms accessible for students stuck at home, the platform's creators were not able to outline how to provide access to this facility for those without digital access.
Bonini stressed the importance of expanding household internet coverage for families and students to have access to online classes and/or online learning opportunities, as well as for them to have access to health-related information.
"There is an urgency to expand affordable internet access and to invest in STEM education to improve digital equity efforts," Susar added. "There are many different initiatives around the world. More needs to be done."
Collaboration between different actors of society
Both Susar and Bonini reiterated the importance of the private sector as well as for different actors in society to come together for a solution to address this gap.
"In general, policy makers can ensure everyone can have access by removing barriers," Susar told IPS. "This can be tax incentives and or other subsidies. The private sector can do its part in the same way by providing affordable access and various options for different income groups."
He added that partnerships between public and private entities can be effective in ensuring this, while academia and civil society can play a crucial role "in capacity building especially for vulnerable groups in acquiring digital skills".
Bonini agreed and highlighted the importance of actions from all sectors as well. "Governments can lead the response, but the private-sector, civil society and individuals all have to be on board to make policies work," she said.
While these relationships are being established and conversations are starting, Bonini suggested a more timely way to address this gap could be through outreach using radio, television or other means that are more likely already available in low-income households.
"We need to understand people's needs, we need to find the resources needed to achieve these needs," said Susar. "The COVID-19 pandemic forced governments to work together with other stakeholders to provide access. We can only hope that these partnerships can continue in the post-COVID19 world."

(Samira Sadeque is a New York-based Bangladeshi journalist and poet focusing on migration, the refugee crisis, gender, and mental health).

Tariff
Add Rate

News Archive

Inside The New Nation

Editorial »

Agreement on Feni River without Teesta is unacceptable


THE Indian government's latest position to secure a lasting water sharing agreement on Feni River sidetracking commitment for signing a simultaneous agreement on Teesta River as reported by an English daily on Friday is clearly an unexpected and unwelcomed move. Without Teesta we can't go for Feni River. Teesta water ...

Entertainment »

Priyanka`s new songs during lockdown


Sheikh Arif Bulbon :Priyanka Biswas is a talented singer of this generation who won hearts of many music-lovers by her melodious voice. The music-lovers were impressed to hear her songs. Few days ago, Priyanka-Apu Aman rendered a duet song titled Jabena Chhere was released on YouTube channel of Dhruba Music ...

Business & Economy »

DCCI opens `SME Development Department` to facilitate CMSMEs


Economic Reporter :Dhaka Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DCCI), the largest SME representative trade organization in the country, launched 'SME Development Department' to facilitate its Cottage, Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (CMSMEs).Officials of the DCCI said they have relentlessly been working for the development of cottage, micro, small and medium ...

City »

Secretary General of Bangladesh Jatri Kalyan Samity Mozammel Haque Chowdhury speaking at a press conference in DRU auditorium on Friday for unveiling report of road accidents in Eid journey.


.

Editorial »

Education needs more allocation in budget to adapt with the new normal


A recent study revealed that the closure of educational institutions due to the coronavirus pandemic, dropout rates will increase significantly at schools which will subsequently cause a rise in child marriage, early pregnancy and child labour. Educationists demanded more budgetary allocation for education sector as part of two/three-year-long Covid-19 response ...

Cricket »

Spinners have chance to shine during saliva ban: Kumble


Cricket chief Anil Kumble hopes a ban on using saliva to shine the ball after the coronavirus shutdown could see a resurgence of spin bowling in Test cricket.The International Cricket Council is expected to order a temporary ban next week on using spit as a shining agent, as part of ...

Entertainment »

Runa Laila getting response for her composed two songs


Entertainment Report :At the end of last year, internationally renowned singer Runa Laila’s two songs were released in two separate YouTube channels. She lent her vocal for a song while noted Indian singer Asha Bhosle rendered another song. In last year November, Runa Laila composed her second song titled Ferate ...

Entertainment »

Nora Fatehi appeals to citizens to donate PPE kits to aid health care fraternity


Nora Fatehi joins Vidya Balan in urging people to donate PPE kits to help our medical fraternity in this tough time. Recently we all have seen Vidya Balan making a donation and requesting citizens to donate PPE kits for our nation's heroes. Now Nora Fatehi makes her sincere appeals to ...

City »

Members of Bangladesh Navy distributing Personal Protective Equipment to the doctors and nurses at Barguna Sadar Hospital recently to fight coronavirus.


Editorial »

More borrowing by govt will add to per head public debt


THE national budget will be placed before the parliament at a cost of Tk 5.569 trillion on June 11 for fiscal year 2020-21 aiming at a GDP growth of 8.2 per cent. The budget is going to be mainly based on bank and non-bank borrowing and will earmark Tk 635.25 ...

City »

Councilor of 26 No Ward of DSCC Hashibur Rahman Manik handing over vegetables among the low-income people free of cost after inaugurating a 'market for one minute'at Abdul Alim Playground in the city on Wednesday.


.

Sports »

Sky Brown, 11, targets Olympic gold despite horror


Agency :Eleven-year-old skateboarder Sky Brown is still targeting Olympic gold for Britain in Tokyo despite a horrific fall during training in the United States.Brown was rushed to hospital by helicopter after falling in training in California on Thursday.She was reportedly unresponsive on arrival at hospital, with her father Stewart saying ...

Editorial »

Welcome RSC as it takes over factory inspection regime


RMG Sustainability Council (RSC) - a local inspection entity jointly formed by BGMEA and representation of different brands, retailers and trade unions finally started functioning from June 1 taking over from Accord made up by European buyers. The handover basically shows the change of the guard from internationally supervised buyers' ...

City »

Mayor of Dhaka South City Corporation Sheikh Fazle Nur Taposh speaking at the first board meeting of the newly elected councilors of DSCC in Mayor Mohammad Hanif Auditorium of Nagar Bhaban on Tuesday.


Sports »

Kutubuddin Ahmed gets Knight Award of Spain


Sports Reporter :Former secretary general of Bangladesh Olympic Association (BOA) Kutubuddin Ahmed got Knight Award of Spain. It is the highest reward of Spain.Ahmed was one of the organiser of South Asian Games (SA Games) 2010, which was held in Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh. He distinguished his name ...

 
Items that you save may be read at any time on your computer, iPad, iPhone or Android devices.
 
Are you new to our website? Do you have already an account at our website?
Create An Account Log in here
Email this news to a friend or like someone
Email:
Write a comment to this news