In South Africa, the shifting from physical to virtual education due to COVID-19 has created inequalities among learners from urban areas who could continue with online schooling and learners from rural areas and also learners with disabilities who were deprived of their right to education.
COVID-19 intensified the shift to online services, already accelerated in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. But digitalisation excludes many older people, whose lack of computer skills, devices and internet access, may prevent them from receiving essential information and banking, health and social care services.
The COVID-19 pandemic revealed a gap between existing technical capabilities in data analytics and the ability of public authorities to use them. While some societies were able to implement solutions based on data analytics, others, due to low mobile internet penetration, lack of appropriate legal frameworks or limited digital literacy in the population, were forced to rely on traditional forms of response to the spread of SARS-CoV-2.
COVID-19 arrayed the prospects and challenges that come with digital technologies. Going forward the development of healthcare standards with such technologies calls for a mindful approach that recognises the digital divide between countries.
Advances in Natural Language Processing and machine learning have made it possible to design predictive models that can be used to assist judicial proceedings. Such technologies transform the legal profession; guaranteeing that this does not disrupt the rule of law, access to justice, fair trial and contestability is a substantial challenge.
Experts have been ringing the alarm bells about children’s privacy online for some time, but the pandemic exacerbated the need to focus on children as right bearers in the digital age. So, what steps need to be taken in order to ensure that children are treated as such and we can build a society resilient to the digital crises of the future?
Technology is very much part of what we do. It is an integrated part of how we think today and not something that one can push away. The question is: how do we make sure that we manage it to serve our purposes from a human rights point of view?