The cost of achieving the national SDG 4 targets that low- and lower-middle-income countries have set for themselves is beyond reach: an annual financing gap of USD 97 billion would need to be covered in 2023–30.
The cost of digital transformation in education is an additional cost on top of that, which is estimated in the new 2023 GEM Report on technology in education released this week. Any discussion about investments now for a future transformation must be clear from the get-go about the finances required to sustain the change.
The 2023 GEM Report argues that the adoption of education technology cannot follow a blanket approach. It must be implemented on countries’ own terms, appropriate to their contexts, compatible with equity and inclusion objectives, commensurate to scaling potential and mindful of long-term adverse economic, social and environmental consequences.
The report looks at three scenarios of increasing ambition for digital transformation to which countries might aspire:
- A basic offline scenario where there is some digital teaching and learning opportunities and some shared devices, but no internet.
- A fully connected schools scenario with more devices available.
- A fully connected schools and homes scenario with electricity and devices, not unlike what the world’s richest countries experienced during COVID-19 with digital learning.