From: Alice Elizabeth Taylor
Albanian Children Whose Families Cannot Afford Internet Being Left Behind by Online Classes

153,000 families in Albania do not have access to the internet, meaning their children are unable to continue their school lessons during the Coronavirus lockdown.

According to the CRCA, a child’s rights NGO and the Albanian Coalition for Education the Ministry of Education is facilitating a violation of the right to quality and equal public education for all children in the country. Noting that these families do not have access to the internet or digital television platforms, it means that children are unable to access the broadcast of secondary and primary lessons.

Since early March all schools in the country have closed and students are being educated via lessons broadcast on television and over video broadcasting platforms such as Zoom. Some 500,000 students are currently pursuing their education via distance learning.

The organisations have highlighted the fact that those children who live in low-income families are not able to benefit from these lessons, thus creating significant differences between rich and poor children. This is something the Albanian Government should have considered and found a solution to, they said

CRCA said they have received a number of complaints from families in rural and urban areas who are unable to afford internet. They find it impossible to stay in contact with their teachers, take and deliver assignments, and benefit from lessons like their peers are able to.

“The right to education is a fundamental right. The Albanian Constitution and the Law on Pre-University Education guarantees to every child equal access to quality education without discrimination. Such legal protections to the right to education of the child extend to any premises where the child is living, when restrictions are imposed due to the decisions of the Government. In this context, it is the obligation of the Government to guarantee to every child, not only access to the internet, but also to the hardware (phone/tablet/computer) that makes it possible for education to continue in conditions of confinement at home,” reads the open letter sent to the government.

The organisations have called on the Albanian government to immediately take all necessary measures to stop such a “flagrant violation” of the right of the child to education. They ask that all children are provided with the necessary technological means and internet connection to use for distance learning.