IGF 2023 WS #551 Why e-learning worsens inequality - How can we solve it?


Digital Divides & Inclusion
Skills Building for Basic and Advanced Technologies (Meaningful Access)

Organizer 1: Levy Syanseke , Internet Society Zambia Chapter
Organizer 2: ENERST MAFUTA KATOKA, Internet Society ( Affordable Internet Access SIG ) / E-TELECOM CONSULT
Organizer 3: Zoe Kuyanda, 🔒
Organizer 4: Ida Padikuor Na-Tei , CTN Technologies
Organizer 5: Kseniia Gnitko, Internet Society

Speaker 1: Kseniia Gnitko, Technical Community, Eastern European Group
Speaker 2: Denise Leal, Private Sector, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 3: ENERST MAFUTA KATOKA, Technical Community, African Group
Speaker 4: Ida Padikuor Na-Tei , Civil Society, African Group


Levy Syanseke , Civil Society, African Group

Online Moderator

Zoe Kuyanda, Technical Community, African Group


John Uduma, Intergovernmental Organization, African Group


Panel - 60 Min

Policy Question(s)

1. How holistic was e-learning in promoting education equality?
2. Did e-learning amidst Covid-19 promote education inequality across the world?
3. Do we have enough infrastructure to support e-learning without increasing the education gap?

What will participants gain from attending this session? Aside from highlighting the increased in the education gap, the participants will gain an understanding of how they can engage their societies to promote increased internet access especially in remote areas to contribute towards reducing inequalities promoted by lack of internet access.


When Covid-19 hit, 2020 saw a number of schools closed. Sometime later, governments and other schools called on implementation of e-learning to ensure that students in their societies continued learning. The idea was to ensure that students did not waste a year at home especially during lockdowns in regions that had been hit the hardest.
Ideally, e-learning is great for societies that cannot afford conventional education. Education advocates ideally would promote e-learning due to its low cost. This in essence fosters an increased number of the literate population. Further, due to e-learning a number of people have been employed following an acquisition of a skill obtained by taking time to learn a program online.
In times of crisis, subjecting the entire society to e-learning works in reverse when promoting education inequality. This is true in the sense that across the world schools in remote areas will not afford e-learning services.
Over 70% of the rural population struggle with mobile phone connectivity, much more internet access. This inteads contributes to education inequality which we saw in 2020-2021 during lockdowns in most regions of the world.
The argument is not to discourage e-learning, rather call for preparedness to facilitate e-learning in a way that allows active participation including communities that are marginalized or have little to no internet access.

Expected Outcomes

1. Adoption of technology that promotes a balanced e-learning approach incorporating marginalized communities.
2. Promotion of infrastructure development thereby promoting increased internet access.
3. Engagement of government and UN related agencies in supporting policies that reduce education inequality.

Hybrid Format: All participants, both online and onsite, will be an important part of the audience. Therefore, online and onsite moderators will cooperate to ensure that both online and onsite participants will have an equal opportunity to join the discussion with speakers and to ask them questions. In the Q &A session, both remote and onsite participation are welcomed and highly encouraged in this workshop.

With remote participants, the onsite and online moderators will work together to ensure the smooth flow of online participation, such that the online community will have opportunities to engage in discussions and raise questions with an alternating pattern between onsite and remote participation. Online participants could input their questions into the Q & A function of the video conferencing platform, and the online moderator would moderate the flow, providing online participants with the opportunity to have their questions answered by our speakers.