Detail Briefing Paper

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Digitalization, education and skills development in the Global South: an assessment of the debate with a focus on Sub-Saharan Africa

Margarita Langthaler / Homa Bazafkan

Wien, November 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified discussions about the digital revolution, but has also brought to light the pitfalls of accelerated digitalization in terms of rising inequality and exclusion.

In development policy, digitalization is viewed both as a risk in terms of the digital divide and as a major opportunity for economic development. Human capabilities rank as one of the key preconditions to reap the benefits of digitalization processes calling for rapid digitalization of education and training systems. Yet, there is lack of consistent strategies to do so without deepening existing patterns of inequality and exclusion, in particular in the Global South.

This Briefing Paper will initially analyse the lessons of experience from the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the education and training sector. It will then reflect on the framing of the debates on digitalization in education. The academic discussion will be summarised from two perspectives, first with regard to the skills required for a digitalized economy and second analysing the impact of digitalization on education systems, mainly in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Paper will subsequently comment on current trends in digitalization policies for the education sector as well as in development cooperation. Conclusions will outline a few recommendations at the policy level.

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