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UNESCO Calls for Global Prohibition of Smartphones in Educational Institutions

The usage of mobile phones influences education claims UNESCO, an organization of the UN located in Paris.

UNITED NATIONS, Jul 26, 2023: Concerns about the excessive usage of smartphones have been addressed in a recent UN study, which calls for nationwide prohibition.

According to UNESCO’s study on technology in education, nations should carefully assess how they employ technology in classrooms.

It highlights the necessity of a “human-centered vision” in which digital technology acts as a tool rather than taking the lead.

In an interview with UN News, UNESCO’s Manos Antoninis cautioned of the risk of data breaches in educational technology, noting that just 16% of nations have laws ensuring data privacy in the classroom.

“We know that enormous amounts of data are used without the proper regulation, so this data ends up being used for other non-educational, commercial purposes, and of course that’s a violation of rights that needs to be regulated,” the author says.

The UNESCO study also highlights the inequities brought about by digital learning. Due to the switch to online-only tuition during the COVID-19 epidemic, half a billion students globally were left behind.

Geographically, the survey found that Europe and North America were significantly overrepresented in online resources.

UNESCO has advised nations to establish guidelines for the design and use of technology in education so that it never supplants face-to-face, teacher-led learning and promotes the common goal of high-quality education for everyone.

“The digital revolution holds immeasurable potential, but, just as warnings have been voiced for how it should be regulated in society, similar attention must be paid to the way it is used in education,” said Audrey Azoulay, director-general of UNESCO.

Its usage must be for improved educational opportunities and the well-being of students and instructors, not to the disadvantage of either group.

The study, Technology in Education: A Tool on Whose Terms?, was unveiled at a gathering in Montevideo, Uruguay, organized by UNESCO and the country’s Ministry of Education and Culture. The Ceibal Foundation and 18 education ministers from other countries also assisted. It suggests four considerations for policymakers and educators as educational technology becomes more widely available and used.

The first query focuses on how technology should be used in the classroom. Children with disabilities who would struggle in a conventional, face-to-face situation might also gain from the availability of technology aid.

“The opportunities it has opened up are incredible, and we are always amazed by the new windows this opens for learners,” said Manos Antoninis, the Director in charge of creating the report.

To avoid repeating the same mistakes, Mr Antoninis added, “We need to learn from our past mistakes when using technology in education.”

We need to teach kids how to live both with and without technology; how to take what they need from the wealth of information, but to ignore what is not necessary; and how to use technology in teaching and learning to support, but never replace, human interactions,” he continued.

During the COVID-19 epidemic, there was a fast move to online learning that excluded an estimated 500 million pupils globally, primarily those living in underserved rural areas.

The research emphasizes how one in four elementary schools lacks power even though the right to education is increasingly associated with the right to meaningful connectivity. Between now and 2030, it is demanded that all nations establish goals for Internet access in schools, with a continued emphasis on these underserved populations.

Unbiased data on the value that technology adds is lacking. According to the What Works Clearinghouse, less than 2% of the education initiatives evaluated in the United States have “strong or moderate evidence of effectiveness.”

According to UNESCO, education systems are under pressure to adapt to the advancement of technology. Critical thinking and digital literacy are becoming increasingly crucial, especially with the rise of generative AI.

Additional information in the paper demonstrates the emergence of this adaption movement: Only 11 of the 51 governments examined had a curriculum for artificial intelligence, even though 54% of the nations have identified the talents they want to acquire for the future.

Let’s not forget that we don’t necessarily need particularly complex abilities to traverse the digital world. The least likely people to fall for a phishing email, for example, are those with the finest reading abilities, according to Antoninus.

However, only half of the world’s countries now have criteria for developing educators’ information and communication technology abilities. Teachers also require proper training. Despite 5% of ransomware assaults focusing on education, even fewer have teacher training programs that address cybersecurity.

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