Apr 22 2021

Corona widens the digital gap between urban, rural youths

The digital gap is widening between the rural and urban youth as the learning and skills development programmes are mostly delivered virtually amid the corona pandemic, says a study.

The research styled ‘Youth development in the COVID-19 era and beyond’ has been conducted among 1464 youths aged between 18 and 35. 

“Some 48 per cent of youth claim that they are not ready to face challenges in the future labour market,” said the research.

Some 26 per cent mentioned about up-skilling or re-skilling themselves through different online training programmes, said the findings of the Bangladesh Youth Leadership Center (BYLC).

The BYLC conducted the survey among 1464 youths across the country following ‘key informant interviews’ and focus group discussions.

Youths claimed they didn’t find the online course module comprehensive while there is no opportunity to clarify confusion over internet platforms.

Around 35 per cent men mentioned the little scope to clarify and 28 per cent women found difficulties in this regard.

Although the government has been focusing on reducing digital gap through expanding internet connectivity, around 42 per cent youths are deprived of skill development due to lack of adequate infrastructure.

Researchers mentioned that the corona pandemic has accelerated technological advancement and created the demand for a whole new range of skills.

They recommended for focusing on digital marketing, data analytics, artificial intelligence, negotiation, leadership and adaptability to cope with the demand of the future.

In the business landscape, most of the young entrepreneurs surveyed reported having a cash runway of two to three months as many youths tried diversifying products for the survival of their business, but could not do for a shortage of capital.

“Around 62 per cent of young entrepreneurs reported that they had to shut down businesses temporarily or permanently due to the pandemic,” the survey revealed.

Of total surveyed youths, around 24 per cent claimed a lack of access to funding to initiate business while 20 per cent found a scarcity of mentorship in this regard.

The pandemic situation created pressure on the mental health of youths as 61 per cent youths mentioned experiencing mental stress due to the corona pandemic.

Youth leaders have mentioned that digital learning can never alternate the traditional training or education system. They also emphasized on reducing the digital gap to prepare youth workforces for the future.

 “Youth generation empowered their ability successfully which was surprising and which is the biggest positive example from that epidemic situation and they have proven that youth is our present and they are able to fight any kind of war in the future,” Sifat Parvin, chapter director at Institute and Training of Young Group of Centre for International Alternative Dispute Resolution, told the Daily Sun.

YoungBangla award winner Faez Belal mentioned that the online classes help the urban youth to learn while students in the remote areas didn’t have enough gear to join the classes.

“An alternative education system has to be introduced to enable girls and children to learn the things what they want to learn,” said Faez Belal, executive director at Barisal Youth Society.

More than 50 per cent youths surveyed referred to online classes taken by educational institutions as ‘slightly effective’ and ‘not that effective’.

Some 91 per cent students in private universities are learning over the internet while 28 per cent students at public universities avail online education. Of which, 35 per cent belongs to National University, a cluster of government colleges across the country.