Avanesian G.1, Borovskaya M.1, Mishra S.2, Masych M.1, Fedosova T.1, Egorova V.1
  • 1 Southern Federal University, 105/42, Bolshaya Sadovaya Str., Rostov-on-Don, 344006, Russian Federation
  • 2 Columbia University, New York, USA

Economic Inequality in the Access to Remote Learning Assets Amongst Youth in BRICS Countries: What Can We Learn from Pre-COVID-19 Data?

2021. Т. 25. № 3. С. 359–378 [содержание номера]
This paper analyzes economic inequalities in the access to such assets for remote learning as internet connection and personal computers at home in BRICS countries among young students (15–24 уears old). It is acknowledged that such household possessions as the internet and personal computer obtain a new role during the COVID-19 pandemic when the educational institutions are closed and in-person classroom instruction is disrupted. Data from household surveys collected from 2015 to 2019 show sharp differences between and within BRICS countries regarding access to these assets for remote learning. In addition to between-country inequalities, the analysis suggests that within-country disparities are also staggering, especially regarding an area of residence and wealth quintile groups, putting at risk the education of youth from most impoverished and rural backgrounds. Econometric application of concentration curves and estimation of concentration indices reveals household wealth as an essential driver of economic inequality in the access to remote learning amongst young students in BRICS countries, highlighting the critical degree of inequality in India and South Africa. The findings suggest that the more universal the access to remote learning is, the less economic inequality is observed in accessing remote learning modalities. In other words, policy implications aimed at expanding digital infrastructure could help ensure that young women and men are not falling behind in receiving a quality education, gaining relevant skills, and accessing decent employment opportunities. For BRICS countries to transform their economies and lead innovations, a digitally literate future workforce is critical, with access to digital resources being a first step towards achieving this. Inequalities in access to these tools show that BRICS countries have more to do before all youth can be connected and participate in a digital economy.
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