The State of the World’s Children 2017: Children in a Digital World

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https://www.unicef.org/sowc2017/index_101721.html

for every child | a digital bridge

Today, more than 29 per cent of the world’s youth – 346 million people between the ages of 15 and 24 – are not connected to the internet. To be disconnected in a digital world is to be deprived of opportunities to learn, communicate and develop skills for the 21st century. Unless access and skills are available more equally, connectivity only deepens inequity, reinforcing deprivation from one generation to the next.

 
In Cameroon, access to quality education – including internet access – is challenging. Violence in neighbouring Central African Republic and Nigeria has sent over 300,000 refugees into the country. More than 300,000 Cameroonians have also been displaced – and two thirds are children.
The majority of these displaced children live in remote areas and don’t benefit from the same quality of learning as those living in urban centres – especially digital learning. If they do have access to education, these children may learn about the internet, but not use it. As a result, the digital divide widens, and at-risk children have even fewer chances to succeed.
But there is reason for optimism. By connecting remote schools and students to technology, one new initiative has begun to bridge the divide, starting with those who need it most in northern Cameroon.


A girl looks at the sky outside her home, Cameroon

Waibai Buka sits in the shade of a tree in the dirt courtyard of her school in Baigai, Cameroon, in the Far North Region, close to the Nigerian border.

 
The school is like any other in the area – large concrete classrooms, rows of wooden desks and benches facing chalkboards, groups of children dressed in neat uniforms adorned with the red, green and yellow of Cameroon’s flag.
But a closer look reveals unusual details: a solar panel and satellite dish bolted to the tin roof of one classroom, and sky blue tablets stacked on a headmaster’s desk.


 
In a region with extremely low internet penetration, Baigai Public School is exceptional – it has internet access. And after just a few months of learning, 12-year-old Waibai is now the resident digital whiz.

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Connect my school

 
Like most children living in the Far North Region, Waibai never had access to the internet growing up. Her family’s small clay house doesn’t even have electricity.
“I remember the moment I used the internet the first time. It was in January 2017,” she says. “Before that, I didn’t even know what the internet was.”
Without an internet connection or any digital tools to speak of, teachers in Waibai’s school would show the children pictures of computers and try to describe how the internet works. But how could teachers, many of whom had also never accessed the internet, possibly articulate the vast e-world just beyond these children’s fingertips?


Two children work on a tablet as a teacher looks on, Cameroon

Twelve-year-old Waibai Buka (right) and a classmate use a tablet with the help of their teacher at their school in Baigai, Cameroon.


 
Everything changed when Baigai Public School gained internet access through a pilot programme called ‘Connect My School’. In January of this year, the project installed a solar-powered satellite unit in the school, providing internet connectivity within a 500 metre radius. The school also received child-friendly tablets loaded with educational games and apps like Wikipedia, as well as drawing, text and photo apps.
For Waibai, the tablets have opened a world of information. The app she uses most frequently is Wikipedia.
“In science we talk about digestion, and the teacher gives us the tablet and we look up digestion,” she says. “I can then explain to the other children that digestion is a transformation of food in the stomach.”
“Before, when I was facing a difficult word, I would ask my teacher for the definition. But it was not like with the tablet, because the tablets give you the full explanation,” she says.


 

“Before, when I was facing a difficult word, I would ask my teacher for the definition. But it was not like with the tablet, because the tablets give you the full explanation.”


 
Teachers confirm that, for the children, being able to look up words and concepts and then talk them through with each other has been infinitely more successful than rote learning.
“It's like a movie stuck in their brain,” says Djemegued Dieudonne, one of the school’s two headmasters.
Beyond putting information within the students’ grasp, the tablets have deepened their curiosity and confidence in using digital technology. Waibai has proven herself to be like early adopters everywhere, quickly learning the ins and outs and then becoming herself a teacher to other students.
“My brain is different,” she says. “For me it was easy to learn the tablet.”


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A long path to learning

 
Although today Waibai deftly masters new concepts with the help of a tablet, her path to star pupil at Baigai Public School was anything but easy. When she was 8 years old and living in nearby Nigeria with her family, their village was attacked by Boko Haram.
“They attacked at night, we were sleeping, and they killed people and burned their houses. We escaped without money for food,” she says. Her father wasn’t home during the attack, and no one has seen him since.
Waibai’s family and neighbours spent weeks in search of safety – moving cautiously through the bush, avoiding roads for fear of being shot. At night they slept on scraps of cloth on the ground. They went nearly an entire month without food. “We just ate wild fruit,” says Waibai.
Their story is a familiar one in Waibai’s school. During 2014 and 2015, the school gained 400 new students, all of whom had been displaced from their homes by violent conflict.

 

Waibai uses a tablet to speak about the human digestive system in front of her class.


 

Waibai skips rope in the school courtyard as a friend records a video of her with a tablet.


 

Teacher Albert Matakone uses a computer tablet as a reference to draw the human digestive system on a blackboard in his class.


 

Waibai’s classmates look up new concepts together on a tablet at school.


 

Waibai and her sister Celine, 4, sit with their mother Ngaroua Baguidam as she prepares food at their home.


 

Waibai answers a question in class while holding a tablet.


 

Waibai uses a tablet to speak about the human digestive system in front of her class.


 

Waibai skips rope in the school courtyard as a friend records a video of her with a tablet.


 

Teacher Albert Matakone uses a computer tablet as a reference to draw the human digestive system on a blackboard in his class.


 

Waibai’s classmates look up new concepts together on a tablet at school.


 

Waibai and her sister Celine, 4, sit with their mother Ngaroua Baguidam as she prepares food at their home.


 

Waibai answers a question in class while holding a tablet.

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Plugging in to the power of education

 
In recent months, the tablets have become a tool for helping new students integrate into the host community. Although the school has seen a marked decrease in the number of newly displaced students, those who do arrive invariably have little experience with the internet.
By welcoming them into the school and teaching them how to use the tablets, Waibai and her classmates are helping some of Cameroon’s most vulnerable children bridge the digital divide.
And in Africa specifically, getting these children online will be key to meeting the challenges of tomorrow. Digital literacy is expected to be the new default skillset required by Africa’s labour market, and children currently make up almost half of the population. Nowhere in the world are children like Waibai more central to a continent's future.
Investing in children’s education, as well as health, protection and access to technology, holds the promise of lifting hundreds of millions of people in Africa out of extreme poverty.

 

https://www.unicef.org/sowc2017/?utm_source=fairchance&utm_medium=referral

Do you remember the first time you went online?

Chances are you knew life before the internet. But for children growing up online, life is unimaginable without it.  

 
Digital technology has transformed the world we live in – disrupting entire industries and changing the social landscape.
Childhood is no exception. One in three internet users worldwide is a child, and young people are now the most connected of all age groups.
From photos posted online to medical records stored in the cloud, many children have a digital footprint before they can even walk or talk.
Digital technology can be a game changer for disadvantaged children, offering them new opportunities to learn, socialize and make their voices heard – or it can be yet another dividing line. Millions of children are left out of an increasingly connected world.
And the online gender gap is growing: Globally there are 12 per cent more men than women online, and the gap is greatest in low-income countries.
And as digital technology rapidly evolves, so can the risks children face online – from cyberbullying to misuse of their private information to online sexual abuse and exploitation.
For better and for worse, digital technology is an irreversible fact of our lives. How we minimize the risks while maximizing access to the benefits will help shape the lives and futures of a new generation of digital natives.
UNICEF set out to uncover how the internet and digital technology are helping and hindering children’s learning, well-being and social relationships.
Explore these stories and learn about the urgent need to make the internet safer for children while increasing access to digital technology for every child, especially the most disadvantaged.

 

Find here the pdf of the summary

file:///C:/Users/DELL/Downloads/SOWC_2017_Summary_En_WEB_FINAL(3).pdf

 

Position: Co -Founder of ENGAGE,a new social venture for the promotion of volunteerism and service and Ideator of Sharing4Good

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