LEARNING outcomes in the East Asia-Pacific region can improve with the use of educational technology (EdTech), which however be made more accessible and be accompanied by improved teaching quality, the World Bank said.

“Low levels of engagement with learning during school closures overall were compounded by unequal access to EdTech,” it said in its ‘Using Education Technology to Improve Student Learning in East Asia Pacific: Promises and Limitations’ report.

Some 41% of respondents to a study in the Philippines reported engagement in online or mobile learning activities when schools were closed. In the rural Philippines, this was only 25%.

The World Bank also cited a joint survey with the Center for Global Development (CGD), which showed that more than half of the decision makers at the education and finance ministries in the Philippines, Indonesia, Laos, Mongolia, and Vietnam acknowledged that EdTech “did not benefit all children equally.”

“Among those who did not find EdTech effective, 37% cited a lack of access to electronic devices (PC/tablet/laptop) as the primary cause,” it added.

A survey also determined that 18.9% of Filipino households said that the lack of access to devices was the main barrier to learning during the pandemic.

“The evidence is clear that investing in hardware like laptops, tablets and computers without complementary investments in connectivity and most importantly teacher training are unlikely to improve learning,” the World Bank said.

It cited recommendations such as using remote instruction in the event of short supply of high-quality teachers; exploring the use of Artificial Intelligence interventions; and developing and expanding interventions using assistive technology for learners with disabilities, among others. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson