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  • Publication
    Internet Access and Use in Latin America and the Caribbean: From the LAC High Frequency Phone Surveys 2021
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2022-09) World Bank; United Nations Development Programme
    While most households in Latin America and the Caribbean use mobile broadband via smartphones, expensive fees and poor service quality pose major obstacles for potential users. In addition, power outages are a challenge for nearly 40 percent of existing mobile broadband users. Addressing the region’s need for faster, cheaper, and more reliable internet connections is thus a policy and investment priority. There are persistent and significant gaps in digital infrastructure between countries in the region, as well as weighty rural-urban gaps within some countries. Bridging these digital divides will be key to inclusive digital transformation. Households with tertiary education are on average more connected (with better quality service and higher expenditures on data) compared to the rest of the population. As education level is correlated with income, digital inequalities mirror and may amplify existing social inequalities – underscoring the critical need to address them. Over two-thirds of connected households in the region are concerned about privacy and security when using the internet. However, households on average across Latin America and the Caribbean still reported increasing their use of the internet amid the pandemic, suggesting that neither issue poses a barrier to their internet use at present.
  • Publication
    The Learning Crisis in Latin America and the Caribbean and the COVID-19 Pandemic: Sobering Results of a Deepening Trend
    (Washington, DC, 2022-04) World Bank
    The Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region was suffering from a deep learning crisis, before the COVID-19 outbreak, with most students being below minimum proficiency levels for critical foundational competencies in numeracy and literacy, according to the Fourth Regional Comparative and Explanatory Study (ERCE). The pandemic that hit the region in March 2020 led to a massive shutdown of educational systems, placing LAC as the region with the longest duration of school closures in the world. The impact of school closures on education service delivery was significant. The forced move to distance learning negatively impacted attendance in the education process, both when compared to enrollment rates (-10 percent) and with pre-pandemic attendance rates (-12 percent). Most worryingly, one in four students attending the education process during the pandemic confirmed being disengaged from learning activities while at home. The COVID-19 led to a crisis within a crisis, deepening pre-existing inequalities that characterize the LAC region, as the most vulnerable populations were disproportionately affected. A significant increase in drop-out rates and decrease in learning outcomes is expected, especially for these groups and countries which were already not doing well pre-pandemic. There is a sizeable schooling and learning recovery agenda ahead of LAC, where re-enrollment campaigns, standardized and in-classroom assessments, and programs to teach to the right level will be fundamental to determine the exact depth of educational losses and start recovering.