Global organisations and over 11,000 teachers have signed a communique calling on governments and tech companies to improve global access to the internet and devices for students and teachers.
Tackling technology poverty is vital to reducing global learning inequalities, campaigners say.
The letter emerged after the global Teacher Tech Summit 2022. The open letter also called for edtech developers to design software and hardware in collaboration with teachers and improve rolling training for teachers across the globe.
Signatories include the World Bank, Scholastic, Cambridge Partnership for Education, the Lemann Foundation, Save the Children and Owl Ventures.
The signatories say that governments must work in concert with the private sector to ensure future strategies share resources and internet access with all students, schools and teachers as a priority. The letter also calls for global initiatives to root out gender disparities, particularly in parts of the world where women and girls do not enjoy equal access to technology.
We must close the digital divide, and that means governments and tech companies coming together to provide the integrated package of support on connectivity, hardware, software and digital human capabilities in all schools
– Jaime Saavedra, World Bank
The letter calls for developers to design edtech of the future in close consultation with teachers and education experts. “There is an overwhelming choice of EdTech available for schools on the market, but too often tech tools fail to improve learning outcomes because they… are not grounded in the real experience of students and teachers.
“They also understand the distinction between a superficial innovation and one that will actually help pupils, and they know how the education sector works from the inside.”
Jaime Saavedra, global director for education at the World Bank, said: “If we are to prevent the learning gaps that were widened by the pandemic from becoming entrenched, then technology – with its ability to offer personalized learning to remove barriers to education – will be a key part of this.
“For this to succeed we must close the digital divide, and that means governments and tech companies coming together to provide the integrated package of support on connectivity, hardware, software and digital human capabilities in all schools.
“Only then technology could be an effective support to the work of teachers, who are the main pillar of our efforts to save this generation. It is teachers who have the responsibility of providing effective instruction and emotional support to children who have been denied an education for months and years, and they need efficient support from ministries and from society as a whole.”
Vikas Pota, founder of T4 Education and the Teacher Tech Summit, said: “We convened the Teacher Tech Summit to link teachers up with technologists because if we are going to find tech solutions to the greatest challenges in global education, it is absolutely essential those creating these tools benefit from the experience of those at the coalface of education who are working every day to improve learning.
“For edtech to achieve its full potential, teachers must also be fully trained to use it effectively, it should be guided by comprehensive evidence-based national strategies to ensure technology improves teaching and learning outcomes, and we must break down the barriers faced by girls and young women in using edtech. Get this right, and edtech will be an invaluable tool in ensuring every child everywhere receives a good education.”
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