Connecting Students Can Boost the Economy

A new report shows that closing the digital divide for students who lack connectivity can provide a tremendous boost to economies around the world, including 5.5% boost to GDP in the United States.

The Economist Intelligence Unit report, Connecting learners: Narrowing the educational divide, found that, whle students don’t need connectivity to obtain an education, the educational opportunities available to students who have connectivity are significant enough to create a divide between those who are connected and those who are not.

Boosting connectivity by 1%, according to the report, can increase “the average number of learning-adjusted years of schooling by 0.06% and GDP per capita by 0.11%.”

How does this happen? According to the report: “The chain of impact from school connectivity to socio-economic gains begins from improved learning outcomes for children. If improved connectivity is supplemented with the right policies to integrate technology in education, it can improve access to learning resources and enhance the quality of education.”

That translates to “[i]mproved learning outcomes for children, combined with enhanced digital literacy skills, [which] allows the benefits of school connectivity to permeate through the life of an individual from childhood, to adolescence to adulthood. New doors are opened for further education and career pathways, offering better opportunities at all stages of life. This brings with it higher income levels and a better quality of life.” And: “Ultimately, the benefits from improved school connectivity is reflected in the GDP of an economy.”

In countries like the United States, where access levels are high and the vast majority of schools are connected, the gap comes largely in the form of quality of connections.

For Ericsson, which sponsored the publication of the report, the findings of the research are a call to action to get behind school connectivity initiatives. Ericsson is a supporter of Giga, an initiative founded by UNICEF and the International Telecommunication Union.

According to Ericsson: “The EIU report shows how school connectivity can lead to improved educational outcomes and enhanced career opportunities for children. resulting in higher economic activity and community growth. The report finds that these individual-level benefits for children have a snowball effect leading to higher incomes, better health, and improved overall wellbeing. The benefits can extend beyond children, supporting wider community development and economic growth.”

The complete report can be downloaded here.

About the Author

David Nagel is the former editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal, STEAM Universe, and Spaces4Learning. A 30-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art, marketing, media, and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at .