Mapping the Digital Divide in the School Education of Thailand
17 August 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic is not only a global public health crisis but also a global education crisis. The pandemic affected approximately 60.5% of the total enrolled learners globally and over 15 million in Thailand alone. Twelve million Thai students enrolled at pre-primary, primary, lower-secondary and upper-secondary education levels were affected by the delayed reopening of schools. The government of Thailand imposed a nationwide temporary closure of educational institutions on March 18, 2020. The threat brought by the second wave of COVID-19 forced the Ministry of Education (MOE) to announce the closure of all public and private educational institutions, both formal and informal, affiliated with and under its supervision in 28 provinces between January 2 – 27, 2021. The students were required to adapt to distance education's new norms during the school closures.
Given the rising importance of digital devices, connectivity, and learning in the post-COVID-19 world, it is important to identify and close existing digital divide that impacts school education. However, the data availability on the state of access to digital devices, connectivity, and other ICT resources is fragmented across different departments and ministries. Hence, this study was undertaken by the UN country team in Thailand, led by ITU in coordination with UNICEF and UNESCO, to provide a comprehensive mapping of the digital divide in school education with a three-fold objective as follows:
1. Scope, map, and analyze available data across relevant ministries on access to digital devices, availability and use of internet, status of school connectivity, and quality of access to better understand the infrastructural challenges and opportunities for e-learning faced by some communities and disadvantaged groups in Thailand.
2. Review and assess existing ICT initiatives – both specifically purposed to support e-learning and education and those not specifically purposed but still essential in enabling it - to identify potential good practices as well as gaps which require further assistance to bridge.
3. Develop a set of evidence-based policy recommendations on required infrastructure, including identification of standards where appropriate, to help bridge this digital divide and support Thailand in keeping up with improved and inclusive technologies - in line with its vision of a digital nation.
To find out more, download the presentation and Executive Summary below.