This report is a global investigation of the education technology (EdTech) endorsed by 49 governments for children’s education during the pandemic. Based on technical and policy analysis of 163 EdTech products, Human Rights Watch finds that governments’ endorsements of the majority of these online learning platforms put at risk or directly violated children’s privacy and other children’s rights, for purposes unrelated to their education.
The new 2023 GEM Report on Technology in education: A tool on whose terms? addresses the use of technology in education around the world through the lenses of relevance, equity, scalability and sustainability.
It argues that education systems should always ensure that learners’ interests are placed at the center and that digital technologies are used to support an education based on human interaction rather than aiming at substituting it. The report looks at ways in which technology can help reach disadvantaged learners but also ensure more knowledge reaches more learners in more engaging and cheaper formats. It focuses on how quality can be improved, both in teaching and learning basic skills, and in developing the digital skills needed in daily life. It recognizes the role of technology in system management with special reference to assessment data and other education management information.
The COVID-19 pandemic greatly accelerated the use of digital technologies in education. But beyond the emergency response, there is an international trend towards exploring how artificial intelligence and data-based analytics can support learning, learning assessments, and evidence-based policy planning processes. The use of data in education is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, they offer tremendous potential to create value by improving policies and programmes, driving transparent governance and better management of education systems, teachers’ empowerment, personalized learning experiences, assessment, and certification. On the other hand, data accumulation can lead to a concentration of economic and political power, raising the possibility that data may be misused in ways that harm learners. This publication argues that a balance must be struck between the use of technology to advance educational transformation and the safeguarding of privacy and individual rights. Proper rules and protocols are needed to protect students and teachers not only in national policies but also at international level, where cooperation and collaborative efforts are also required to support policy learning, knowledge sharing and mutual understanding. UNESCO launches through this publication a clarion call to the education community not only to pay careful attention to data privacy in education, but to take the lead in these developments.
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In her first report to the Human Rights Council, 25 years after the establishment of the mandate on the right to education, the Special Rapporteur reviews achievements, particularly on how the right to education is understood today and the obligations it entails, as well as contemporary and emerging issues that need to be considered to ensure the right to education for all, today and in the future.
This documented was submitted to the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to education in February 2023, in response to a call for contributions for a report she is developing for the UN Human Rights Council.
In her 2022 Report on the impact of the digitalisation of education on the right to education, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to education clarified that any introduction of digital technologies in education must be framed around the right of every person to public, free, quality education and the commitments of states in this regard both under international human rights law and Sustainable Development Goal 4. This paper affirms that state obligations under the human rights framework must be the starting point for assessing and responding to discussions related to the monitoring of children’s activities and the collection and use of their data in the field of education. Part 2 outlines the international and regional human rights legal framework that governs the relationship between technology and education, providing a baseline upon which states can verify compliance with international human rights law and useful guidance for anyone seeking to understand the impacts of existing and emerging educational products and services. Part 3 then provides a comparative analysis of the regulation of technology and education in ten countries, through an examination of current data protection, education and related legislation, for the purpose of understanding how different countries are paying attention to and addressing key human rights issues with regards to technology in education in practice.
Background paper to 2023 UNESCO GEM Report 'Technology in education: a tool on whose terms?'