Information and Communication Technology (ICT) increasingly makes education more accessible and more universally and equitably available to all. ICT also enables more efficient delivery of quality teaching, more effective learning, and better educational management, governance and administration.
Many countries are realizing the importance of connecting their educational institutions to the Internet and, as a result, have developed e-learning and m-learning strategies for connecting schools and students. Countries also realize, however, that in defining their National School Connectivity Plans, it is also important to identify how well their plans dovetail with teachers’ ability to implement them. Do teachers have the experience and knowledge to incorporate ICT into lesson plans, teaching methodologies and curricula? Are there funds devoted to procuring ICT-related connectivity and other resources?
Connectivity provides many benefits including access to an ever-growing volume of educational information, opportunities for collaboration and the use of online applications. In addition, it is important for students, as well as teachers, to learn information and communication technology skills to enable them to participate in the evolving knowledge society. School connectivity also helps enhance educational administration through the electronic exchange of forms, data and other information. It also achieves cost efficiencies by automating manual tasks and reducing expenses associated with textbook printing and distribution. The benefits are particularly attractive for remote schools where Internet access provides the vehicle for online learning and access to educational content.
The policies that enable schools to benefit from Internet connectivity can also be leveraged as vehicles to provide connectivity to marginalized and vulnerable groups, such as persons with disabilities, the elderly, the unemployed, minorities and indigenous peoples. This module can thus also serve as a tool for considering the ways in which access to the Internet can benefit groups with special needs.
Although many of the benefits identified are only achievable through broadband connectivity, that connectivity can be achieved through a myriad of technologies. All forms of connectivity, including fixed and mobile broadband, as well as satellite broadband, must be considered. In addition, there are multiple types of devices and media for delivery of ICT. Given the importance of ICT to the educational process, multiple delivery modes should be considered, including, for example, “m-education” initiatives or simulated access to a selection of Internet resources through e-reader devices or other such devices.
This module mainly examines primary and secondary school connectivity, since this is the emphasis of most ICT infrastructure-for-education initiatives. Total Cost of Ownership is also considered, however, particularly since many small and remote, rural schools lack access to electricity grids, affecting their connectivity costs and hindering their participation in Internet connectivity initiatives.
Section 1 elaborates on the benefits of school connectivity. Section 2 identifies international and regional goals and targets with respect to school connectivity. The role of planning for achieving school connectivity, including key elements for consideration in implementing and funding Internet access in schools, is described in Section 3. Section 4 examines the potential of leveraging the investment in school connectivity to serve a wider audience outside school hours.
The module primarily concentrates on ways to achieve connectivity itself and does not consider in detail the next step of incorporating connectivity into the school environment. Section 5focuses on topics such as broadband curriculum, training and online content, along with a number of cross-cutting issues including child online protection and one-to-one computer initiatives required for the next step. The one-to-one computer model is discussed in detail in Module 2. Section 6 provides several case studies on different countries experiences on providing Internet access to schools.
As information and communication technologies (ICTs) become increasingly integral to interactions between people, businesses and governments, policymakers are recognizing the benefits of improved and expanded Internet and, especially, broadband connectivity In particular, policymakers and educators now understand that Internet connectivity for schools can have a wide array of short-term, medium-term and long-term benefits and that many of those benefits identified are only achievable through broadband connectivity.
However, it is also clear that the use of technology in education (computers and connectivity) will have a more positive impact if connectivity and the resulting opportunities and benefits are also incorporated into teaching and learning methods. An Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)-financed programme in Uruguay, for example, is maximizing the impact of that country’s Ceibal initiative to provide computers to all students in the country by training teachers and other staff. Uruguay is strengthening the educational components of the plan, improving monitoring activities to better gauge impacts, and extending the use of computers to the broader society, particularly in low-income areas.1
Access to new and better resources, combined with the development of new educational methodologies and pedagogies, will lead to important results in the short, medium and long term.
1: IADB, Computer use in schools strengthened and extended beyond the classroom in Uruguay, available at: http://www.iadb.org/en/mapamericas/uruguay/computer-use-in-schools-strengthened-and-extended-beyond-the-classroom,5839.html
In the short term, Internet connectivity can provide a boost to teaching resources and administrative efficiency for local schools and school districts. The short-term benefits of connecting schools to the Internet can be summarized as (1) Access to content and tools; (2)Improved access to existing resources; and (3) Immediate and permanent flow of communication between schools, between teachers and students (as well as their families) and between schools and educational system authorities.
In the short term, extending Internet and, in particular, broadband connectivity to schools enables educators to take advantage of new and emerging content and tools that update and enrich curricula while providing individual instructors with tools that can facilitate and expand collaboration with colleagues both near and far.
For several decades, radio and television have been used to augment education in classroom settings, and to connect rural students to educational opportunities. Today, the power of computers and the availability of Internet -- and especially broadband -- connections enable a greater expansion of the types of content available, allowing higher levels of interactivity in educational settings.
Internet connectivity allows students and teachers access to current online research and instructional materials that can include images, audio recordings, and videos. These materials augment and complement more traditional oral instruction and written materials. Combined with tools that allow for collaboration among students and teachers, Internet-enabled educational tools, including mobile phones, are not generally seen as a "disruptive" force but more often as a positive one in educational programmes around the world, enabling the creation of more effective and engaging educational models.
Studies have shown that the introduction of ICTs in the educational process has great potential for knowledge dissemination, effective learning and the development of more efficient educational services. Similarly, improved ICT infrastructure and technology applications can increase and improve access to ICT resources and services. Within this context, however, experience also shows that there are certain formats that make multiple educational resources more readily accessible, as well as more relevant, to most teachers and learners in least developed countries (LDCs). Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs), laptops, Pocket PCs, and mobile phones -- even material stored on CDs or USBs -- can provide interactive content to previously unreachable and remote locations.
In Ethiopia, there is a programme supported by IICD (Institute for International Cooperation and Development) and Edukans in the Connect4Change consortium, and by Ethiopian partner Development Expertise Centre Ethiopia. This programme allows primary school teachers and teacher trainees at 75 schools throughout Ethiopia to record their classes on video. They can then evaluate and improve their teaching skills and make use of computers to plan their lessons more efficiently. According to teachers participating in the programme, the motivation of students has increased and results have improved. 2
Traditional, classroom-based approaches to learning can be supplemented by learner-centred, anytime-anywhere learning modes, potentially increasing participation and school retention rates. Delaying the introduction of ICT-enabled education resources is no longer an option. But the simple introduction of e-readers can be an initial starting point for the full integration of ICTs into schools.
The main point is that technology is essential. A recent McKinsey report, commissioned by the GSM Association, shows that in the United States, for example, the oral fluency of kindergartners in New Mexico tripled just three years after educators began using mobile computing devices to assess individual students’ progress and to tailor lessons to their needs. This is just one example of m-education’s tremendous potential.3
Experience also shows that when broadband service replaces a slower Internet connection, such as dial-up service, students and educators gain even better access to existing resources and materials that previously may have been too time-intensive to download --or were simply unavailable without the bandwidth provided by broadband connectivity.
Internet connectivity also provides new opportunities and additional value to coursework designed to train people to use ICTs. This transforms isolated personal computers (PCs) or computer labs into tools for accessing information from around the world.
Despite significant differences in levels of development and educational programmes around the world, Internet and mobile phone-enabled educational tools can be incorporated into curricula across all socioeconomic levels. Specific areas of focus can be customized to suit the needs of each community.
2 IICD, “Ethiopian Teachers Use Video to Evaluate and Improve Teaching Skills,” October 2012. Available at: http://www.iicd.org/articles/ethiopian-teachers-record-and-evaluate-teaching-skills-by-recording-video
3 McKinsey & Company, Transforming Learning through mEducation, GSMA, April 2012.
Beyond the short-term gains of Internet connectivity, schools with sustainable connectivity can begin to look forward to significant medium-term benefits, including (1)improved cognitive and non-cognitive skills, (2) timely access to new resources, and (3) generating interest in ICTs in the wider community.
Changes to educational curricula spurred by the introduction of online content and research tools have the potential, over the medium term, to improve cognitive and noncognitive skills.4
A May 2009 review carried out for the United States Department of Education5 examined available studies of ICT-enabled instruction in order to explore the effectiveness of such methods in the United States. The review found a statistically significant increase in performance among students who took all or part of a course online, rather than with traditional classroom instruction. But the review also noted:
1. The relatively small number of controlled studies on the subject,
2. The fact that most studies were based upon university and graduate students, and
3. That the introduction of online media alone had less of an impact than a deeper reorganization of the way instruction was presented or oriented.
Recent developments in m-education show a positive impact from the use of mobile phones in schools.
A recent GSM Association report illustrates this through a number of examples:
In 2012, the non-profit organization World Reader published the results of iREAD, its year-long, USAID-funded pilot programme in Ghana. iREAD involved the wireless distribution of more than 32,000 local and international digital books, using Kindle e-readers, to 350 students and teachers at six pilot schools in Ghana’s Eastern Region between November 2010 and September 2011. The results indicated that primary school students with access to e-readers showed significant improvement in reading skills and in time spent reading, and that the programme was cost-effective over that period. 7
As additional work is carried out on monitoring and evaluation of ICTs' effectiveness in education, policymakers and educators will have additional data to use in designing curricula and initiatives to maximize the benefits of ICTs in the classroom.8
4 Non-cognitive attributes are those academically and occupationally relevant skills and traits that are not specifically intellectual or analytical in nature, and include personality and motivational habits and attitudes that facilitate functioning well in school. Non-cognitive traits, skills and characteristics include perseverance, motivation, self-control and other aspects of conscientiousness. (See Borghans, L., Duckworkth, A.L., Heckman, J.J. & Weel, B., The Economics and Psychology of Personality Traits NBER Working Paper No. 13810, Cambridge, MA, National Bureau of Economic Research, 2008.)
5 U.S. Department of Education, "Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies, "May 2009, http://www.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/tech/evidence-based-practices/finalreport.pdf.
8 For example, the World Bank’s infoDev unit, in partnership with a range of organizations, is conducting studies and identifying best practices and lessons learned in the use of ICTs for education.
In addition, Internet connectivity has the potential to reduce the time needed for new policies, curricula, and research tools to become available to students.
Generally, the delivery of books, videos -- even multimedia instructional materials delivered on CD-ROM or DVD -- lags behind the development of those materials, particularly in developing countries and rural areas. Internet connectivity can serve as an equalizer, making current, and even experimental, materials more readily available to educators in a timely fashion.
This is also the case where mobile technology is used in classrooms. Given that mobile networks cover almost 90 per cent of the global population today, m-education can enable teachers and students across the globe to access locally and globally relevant content. 9
Moreover, Internet connectivity enables interactivity not only among students, or between students and teachers. It can even allow the teachers’ and students’ use of online resources to inform content developers as they update existing resources and develop new tools.
There is also evidence that the use of Internet connectivity as an educational tool for children acts as a motivating force for parents to obtain Internet service at home.10 Increased demand then attracts interest from governments and other organizations that may want to fund broadband deployment, in particular. Growing demand also helps commercial network operators that otherwise might be hesitant to offer services without a reasonable business case built on sustainable demand levels.
In addition to serving educational needs, Internet-connected schools can serve as ICT centres for their surrounding populations. In areas where low income, lack of infrastructure or other factors may present barriers to widespread broadband connectivity, policymakers can focus on using key public institutions -- including schools -- as ICT centres that offer access, training, and support services.
10 Comments by multiple panelists in U.S. FCC workshop, “Programmatic Efforts to Increase Broadband Adoption and Usage – What Works and What Doesn't?” 19 August 2009.
Deploying ICTs in schools is a long-term investment. But the pay-off for sustainable support of connectivity is a host of long-term benefits, including:
Recent literature suggests that the impact of ICTs on student achievement is a long-term effect, especially if this is considered in terms of standardized tests associated with the curriculum. Medium-term impacts can be expected in the development of cognitive and non-cognitive skills.11
Over the long term, Internet connectivity in educational settings can be leveraged to ensure that students grow up with some level of familiarity, not only with basic operation of devices such as PCs, but also with the online resources that are available across the world. Such resources are rapidly growing, providing tools to enable research, collaboration, communication, trade, civic participation, and access to government services.
By enacting policies intended to teach a generation of students how to access and contribute to online resources, policymakers can help create adults who are able to use local and global online resources for greater individual participation in national and global economies. This, in turn, contributes to broad socioeconomic development, which is a key goal, particularly in developing countries.
For these reasons, improving and expanding connectivity for educational institutions is often a key component of national development plans, as well as national ICT plans and policies. While ICTs are key tools in enabling and promoting socioeconomic development, research has indicated that investment in ICTs alone is not as effective as investment in ICTs and education together.12
Encouraging evidence exists that developing countries are – in one fashion or another – taking educational goals into account in their ICT development plans. A 2007 survey carried out by infoDev found that among 48 African countries that had (or were developing) a national ICT plan, 39 also had (or were developing) plans for including ICTs in their education sectors.13
While plans for including ICTs in education programmes should address goals beyond connectivity, broadband connectivity certainly is a logical component of new and updated sector plans -- for both ICTs and education. Coordinating these plans and efforts can provide a key means to expand opportunities for socioeconomic development.
11: Eugenio Severin, Technologies for Education (TEd): A Framework for Action, Inter-American Development Bank Education Division,(SCL/EDU),
, http://www.iadb.org/document.cfm?id=36635979 and
12Morawczynski, Olga and Ojelanki Ngwenyama, “Unraveling the Impact of Investments in ICT, Education and Health on Development: An Analysis of Archival Data of Five West African Countries Using Regression Splines,” The Electronic Journal on Information Systems in Developing Countries, Vol. 25 (2007), No. 5, pp. 1-15.
13Country Surveys, p. 6, http://www.infodev.org/en/Document.353.pdf.
The goal of providing ICT access to schools is a global one. It has attracted support and contributions -- from a financial and intellectual standpoint -- from multiple international organizations, including the ITU, the United Nations, the World Bank, the European Union, and others. Some of their efforts have been embraced through (1) the Millennium Development Goals (MGDs), (2) the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), (3) the Broadband Commission, and (4) the World Education Forum.
The goal of providing ICT access to schools is a global one. It has attracted support and contributions -- from a financial and intellectual standpoint -- from multiple international organizations, including the ITU, the United Nations, the World Bank, the European Union, and others. Some of their efforts have been embraced through (1) the Millennium Development Goals (MGDs), (2) the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), (3) the Broadband Commission, and (4) the World Education Forum.
In 2000, world leaders adopted the United Nations Millennium Declaration, an effort to foster a global partnership to reduce extreme poverty. The initiative established a series of time-bound targets, with a deadline of 2015. These targets, known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), establish specific development objectives including eradicating poverty and improving access to health and education.14
Of the eight MDGs, two targets involve the accessibility and improvement of education. Goal 2 aims to achieve universal primary education so that by 2015, children everywhere (both boys and girls) will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling.15 Goal 3 of the MDGs focuses on promoting gender equality and empowering women. It aims to eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and at all levels of education no later than 2015.16
Although these MDGs do not deal directly with the establishment of school connectivity, their focus on providing education has set the stage for countries to focus their efforts on developing policies for improved educational accessibility The establishment of school connectivity can help governments to achieve the MDG education goals:
“The MDGs in education are defined in terms of participation and completion of primary education by all children and the elimination of gender discrimination in education. ICTs play an important role in reaching these goals by transcending time and space, allowing learning to take place 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This contributes immensely to the inclusion of traditionally excluded populations such as girls and women, ethnic minorities, and persons with disabilities - groups previously marginalized due to cultural, social and geographical circumstances.” 17
14 The Millennium Development Goals, available at:
16 The Millennium Development Goals Report 2008, pg. 12.
16 The Millennium Development Goals Report 2008, pg. 16.
17 http://unpan1.un.org/intradoc/groups/public/documents/gaid/unpan034975.pdf. The ITU provides specific examples of how ICTs impact the MDGs in: http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/publications/wtdr_03/material/Chap4_WTDR2003_E.pdf.
The International Telecommunication Union's (ITU's) Plenipotentiary Conference of 1998 recognized that ICTs areimportant for economic and social development. As a result, the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)18 was proposed to provide a global forum where all stakeholders could help develop a framework for the Information Society. The goal was to establish a strategic plan of action with clear objectives, identifying the needed resources and the roles to be played by the different partners involved.19
In 2001, the ITU Council decided to hold the WSIS in two "phases." The first phase was held in 2003 in Geneva, where governments adopted the Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action for WSIS. The Declaration identified 11 key principles for building an inclusive Information Society. One of those -- the principle of capacity building -- stressed the importance of literacy and universal primary education in achieving an all-inclusive Information Society.
The Geneva Plan of Action (2003) defined, as an objective, the goal that everyone should have the necessary skills to benefit fully from the Information Society, and that within this context, capacity-building and ICT literacy are essential. The Plan of Action indicated that ICTs can contribute to achieving universal education worldwide, through the delivery of education, teacher training, improved conditions for lifelong learning (encompassing people who are outside the formal education process), and improved professional skills.
Within this context, the 2003 Plan of Action covered 16 areas relating to e-learning, including fostering domestic policies to integrate ICTs at all levels of education and developing and supporting programmes to eradicate illiteracy and promote e-literacy skills for all.20 It also recommended removing gender barriers to ICT education and empowering ICT use in rural and underserved communities.21 Furthermore, taking into consideration different national circumstances, the 2003 Plan of Action proposed possible national targets, including one on connectivity in educational institutions that called for countries "to connect universities, colleges, secondary schools and primary schools with ICTs."22
The implication is that all educational institutions should be connected by the target date of 2015. The Geneva Plan of Action (2003) also proposed implementing appropriate international performance evaluation (both qualitative and quantitative) and benchmarking strategies at the national, regional, and international levels. This would allow monitoring of countries' progress in implementing the objectives, goals, and targets outlined in the Geneva Plan of Action (2003).23
The second phase of WSIS, meanwhile, was held in Tunis in 2005, resulting in theTunis Commitment and the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society. The Tunis Commitment recognized that “ICTs have enormous potential to expand access to quality education, to boost literacy and universal primary education, and to facilitate the learning process itself.”24 This reinforced support for the provision of universal, equitable and affordable access to ICTs.
The Tunis Agenda for the Information Society, meanwhile, acknowledged that greater financial resources were needed to increase broadband capacity and facilitate the delivery of a broader range of services and applications, as well as to support investment and offer Internet access at affordable prices to both existing and new users.25
18 World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), Basic Information: About WSIS, available at: http://www.itu.int/wsis/basic/about.html
19 Resolution 73 of the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference, Minneapolis 1998, available at: http://www.itu.int/wsis/docs/background/resolutions/73.html
20 Plan of Action for World Summit on the Information Society, December 2003, available at: http://www.itu.int/wsis/docs/geneva/official/poa.html
21 Plan of Action for World Summit on the Information Society, December 2003, available at: http://www.itu.int/wsis/docs/geneva/official/poa.html
22Plan of Action for World Summit on the Information Society, December 2003, available at: http://www.itu.int/wsis/docs/geneva/official/poa.html
23 Plan of Action for World Summit on the Information Society, December 2003, available at: http://www.itu.int/wsis/docs/geneva/official/poa.html
24 Tunis Commitment, November 2005, available at: http://www.itu.int/wsis/docs2/tunis/off/7.html
25 Tunis Agenda for the Information Society, November 2005, available at: http://www.itu.int/wsis/docs2/tunis/off/6rev1.html
At the World Education Forum, held in April 2000 in Dakar, Senegal, more than 180 countries adopted a Framework for Action, comprising six “Education for All” (EFA) goals:
1) Expand and improve comprehensive early childhood care and education, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children;
2) Ensure that by 2015 all children, especially girls, children in difficult circumstances, and childrenfrom ethnic minorities have access to and complete free and compulsory primary education of good quality;
3) Ensure that the learning needs of all young people are met through equitable access to appropriate learning and life skills programs;
4) Achieve a 50 per cent improvement in levels of adult literacy by 2015, especially for women, as well as equitable access to basic and continuing education for adults;
5) Eliminate gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005, and achieve gender equality by 2015 - with a special focus on ensuring full and equal access for girls to basic education of good quality; and
6) Improve all aspects of the quality of education to achieve recognized and measurable learning outcomes for all -especially in literacy, numeracy, and essential life skills.26
The EFA goals are monitored on an annual basis by UNESCO.
A mid-term monitoring report published in 2007 found that with regard to Goal 5, disparities had been reduced, and about a third of countries with available data had achieved gender parity. The Framework sees ICTs as some of the main tools for achieving these goals:
71. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) must be harnessed to support EFA goals at an affordable cost. These technologies have great potential for knowledge dissemination, effective learning, and the development of more efficient education services.
72. The swiftness of ICT developments, their increasing spread and availability, the nature of their content and their declining prices are having major implications for learning. They may tend to increase disparities, weaken social bonds and threaten cultural cohesion. Governments will therefore need to establish clearer policies in regard to science and technology, and undertake critical assessments of ICT experiences and options. These should include their resource implications in relation to the provision of basic education, emphasizingchoices that bridge the 'digital divide', increase access and quality, and reduce inequity.
73. There is need to tap the potential of ICTs to enhance data collection and analysis, and to strengthen management systems, from central ministries through sub-national levels to the school; to improve access to education by remote and disadvantaged communities; to support initial and continuing professional development of teachers; and to provide opportunities to communicate across classrooms and cultures.27
The2011 EFA Global Monitoring Report states that 67 million children were out of school worldwide in 2008. The report adds that to achieve EFA goals by 2015, 1.9 million qualified teachers are needed; more than half will be needed in the sub-Saharan Africa region alone.28
27 UNESCO, “EFA Global Monitoring Report 2007” at http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001477/147794e.pdf
28 UNESCO, “EFA Global Monitoring Report 2011” at http://www.unesco.org/new/en/education/themes/leading-the-international-agenda/efareport/reports/2011-conflict/
ITU and UNESCO set up the Broadband Commission for Digital Development in May 2010, in response to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s call to step up UN efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The Commission aims to boost the importance of broadband on the international public policy agenda and defines practical ways in which countries — at all stages of development — can expand broadband access, in cooperation with the private sector, to facilitate the achievement of the MDGs by 2015.
While not addressing the topic of ICTs in education directly, the Broadband Commission argues that progress towards achieving each of the MDGs can be accelerated with ICTs, in general, and broadband in particular. This is not because ICTs and broadband are not end-goals in themselves, but because they are cross-cutting drivers of socio-economic development like no other technologies in the modern world. ICTs can bring healthcare, education and government services to people wherever they live, as well as leveraging training opportunities around the world. 29
At the Broadband Leadership Summit in Geneva in October 2011, the Broadband Commission established four targets for making broadband policy universal and for boosting affordability and broadband uptake, which in turn will also affect school connectivity. The targets are:
Target 1: Making broadband policy universal. By 2015, all countries should have a national broadband plan or strategy or include broadband in their Universal Access / Service Definitions.
Target 2: Making broadband affordable. By 2015, entry-level broadband services should be made affordable in developing countries through adequate regulation and market forces (amounting to less than 5% of average monthly income).
Target 3: Connecting homes to broadband. By 2015, 40% of households in developing countries should have Internet access.
Target 4: Getting people online. By 2015, Internet user penetration should reach 60% worldwide, 50% in developing countries and 15% in LDCs.30
29: A 2010 Leadership Imperative: The Future Built on Broadband , available at:
30: Broadband Targets for 2015
Around the world, several regional initiatives have been initiated to promote school connectivity. Some have evolved from international initiatives such as the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Some initiatives to achieve school connectivity are international, but not necessarily global. These initiatives are often regional, combining the resources of a group of countries with common interests in promoting educational and ICT gains. Some of these regional initiatives have been pioneered by: (1) the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries, (2) the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), (3) the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), and (4) the European Union.
There is also the phenomenon of Regional and National Research and Education Networks, which seek to offer high-speed, high-quality Internet connections for research and education. These RRENs and NRENs are addressed in section 2.2.5
The United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) supports the Strategy for the Information Society in Latin America and the Caribbean (“eLAC”). A long-term vision aligned with the MDGs and the goals of WSIS (Figure 2-1), eLAC provides short-term action plans containing qualitative and quantitative goals. These plans, which comprise the region’s Plan of Action for the Information Society, have served to promote integration and cooperation in the area of ICTs, and also have acted as a link between international-level goals and the needs and priorities of the region and its countries.31
In 2005, the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries signed the Rio de Janeiro Commitment, which determined that ICTs should be used to achieve the MDG goals in that region. It also renewed the region’s commitment to expanding cooperation among all countries through the exchange of experience, knowledge, and technology. The Commitment called for development of "e-applications" and "e-education" solutions. In addition, it emphasized the need to create government programmes to provide indigenous peoples with access to ICTs, taking into account the special situation of those groups.32
The Rio Commitment led to the definition of eLAC 2007, the regional plan of action for the 2005-2007 period, which outlined 30 goals and 70 activities, divided into five "cluster" areas:
(1) Access and digital inclusion,
(2) Capacity building and knowledge creation,
(3) Public transparency and efficiency,
(4) Policy instruments, and
(5) Enabling environment.
The access and digital inclusion cluster established goals and activities for online schools and libraries, including an objective to:
“Double the number of public schools and libraries that are connected to the Internet, or connect one third of them, if possible via broadband, particularly those located in rural, isolated or marginal areas…”33
This goal was supposed to be achieved by mid-2007 but remained unfulfilled in most countries. The Monitoring eLAC 2007 Report shed light on the status of the spread of ICTs, according to the goals and activities established in eLAC 2007. It pointed out that there had been significant progress in the region in developing "information societies" in each country. Fifteen out of the 27 monitored action areas showed acceptable or strong growth. The remaining 12 action areas showed moderate to insufficient advances. Areas of action in which progress was strong and notable were:
In 2008, as a consequence of WSIS 2005 and to follow up on the Rio de Janeiro Commitment, LAC countries signed the San Salvador Commitment, further cementing the region’s commitment to using ICTs as instruments to support economic development and social inclusion. The San Salvador Commitment, called for increasing efforts to achieve the region’s priorities in education.35 It also reiterated the need to include all stakeholders -- the private sector, civil society, and scientific and academic communities -- in the creation of the Information Society, as well as in seeking financial mechanisms to help realize the region’s ICT goals and targets.36
eLAC 2010, which followed the San Salvador Declaration, delineated the ICT goals and targets for the region between 2008 and 2010. It provided 83 goal-oriented activities for six priority areas in the region: (1) education and training, (2) infrastructure and access, (3) health, (4) public administration and e-government, (5) the productive sector, and (6) policy instruments and strategic tools. With education as a top priority for the region, the eLAC 2010 plan established specific goals and activities for achieving better accessibility and capacity levels in the region, including a goal to:
Connect 70% of public educational institutions to the Internet, preferably via broadband connections, or triple the current number.37
The process continued with the adoption of the Lima Declaration and the definition of eLAC2015, which contains eight thematic areas, 10 lines of action, six priorities and 26 goals, including developing and implementing ICTs for inclusive education. Providing universal access to ICTs for education, and expanding their use in this field, is defined as a priority under this action item.38
The Plan particularly provides that:
The policy for maximizing use of digital technologies in the context of education must be viewed as a policy of State. This policy must include advanced training for teachers in technological, cognitive and pedagogical areas, the production of digital contents and interactive applications, innovative teaching and learning methodologies and the use of cutting-edge technological resources, including the provision of broadband and other systems with the potential to transform teaching.39
In terms of connectivity, Goal 23 of the Plan calls for efforts to:
Connect all educational establishments to broadband and increase their computer density, while promoting the use of convergent educational resources such as mobile phones, video games and open interactive digital television. In this connection, foster public policies that support collaborative teaching and research activities carried out over national and regional research and education networks. In particular, promote support for the CLARA network and CARIBnet in managing and obtaining passive infrastructure, thus strengthening the regional network for science, technology, research and innovation.40
Figure 2-1: The Link between eLAC and International Initiatives
31 eLAC – Strategy for the Information Society in Latin America and the Caribbean, available at:
32 Rio de Janeiro Commitment, Regional Preparatory Ministerial Conference of Latin America and the Caribbean for the Second Phase of the World Summit on the Information Society, June 2005.
33 San Salvador Commitment, Second Ministerial Conference on the Information Society in Latin America and the Caribbean, February 2008.
34 San Salvador Commitment, Second Ministerial Conference on the Information Society in Latin America and the Caribbean, February 2008.
35 Plan of Action for the Information Society in Latin America and the Caribbean eLAC 2007, http://www.eclac.org/cgi-bin/getProd.asp?xml=/socinfo/noticias/documentosdetrabajo/5/21685/P21685.xml&xsl=/socinfo/tpl-i/p38f.xsl&base=/socinfo/tpl/top-bottom.xsl.
36 eLAC – Monitoring, available at: http://www.eclac.org/cgi-bin/getprod.asp?xml=/socinfo/noticias/paginas/7/32567/P32567.xml&xsl=/socinfo/tpl/p18f.xsl&base=/socinfo/tpl/top-bottom.xsl
37 “San Salvador Commitment,” in Second Ministerial Conference on the Information Society in Latin America and the Caribbean, LC/R.2144, (San Salvador, 2008) http://www.cepal.org/socinfo/noticias/noticias/3/32363/2008-2-TICs-San_Salvador_Commitment.pdf .
38 “eLAC2015 Plan of Action” available at: http://www.cepal.org/socinfo/noticias/documentosdetrabajo/5/41775/2010-820-eLAC-Plan_of_Action.pdf
39 “eLAC2015 Plan of Action” available at: http://www.cepal.org/socinfo/noticias/documentosdetrabajo/5/41775/2010-820-eLAC-Plan_of_Action.pdf
40 “eLAC2015 Plan of Action” available at: http://www.cepal.org/socinfo/noticias/documentosdetrabajo/5/41775/2010-820-eLAC-Plan_of_Action.pdf
NEPAD's e-Africa programme (formerly called the NEPAD e-Africa Commission) aims to promote Africa as a globally competitive digital society by developing policies, strategies and projects at the continental level for the development and use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) throughout Africa.41
A key project of the e-Africa programme is the NEPAD e-Schools Initiative, which was adopted in 2003, during the Africa Summit of the World Economic Forum. The Initiative is a priority regional activity to ensure that primary and secondary students in Africa have the skills to participate effectively in the global information society. One of the components of the project is infrastructure, and there is a goal to provide all African primary and secondary schools with Internet connections. To date, sixteen African countries have signed MoUs with the NEPAD e-Africa Programme and a consortium of private sector companies to participate in the NEPAD e-Schools demo Project. More than 80 demonstration NEPAD e-School installations have been implemented. Each school in the demonstration project was equipped with a computer laboratory containing at least 20 PCs, as well as a server, networking infrastructure and peripheral devices such as scanners, electronic whiteboards and printers. The schools were connected to the Internet to enable them to access content and to communicate with the rest of the world.42
41 NEPAD e-Africa Commission, “NEPAD e-schools Initiative. Available at http://www.eafricacommission.org/projects/127/nepad-e-schools-initiative#1.
42 NEPAD e-Africa Programme. Available at: http://www.nepad.org/regionalintegrationandinfrastructure/infrastructure/ict
Ministers of Education of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in 2004 asked the ECOWAS Commission to establish an online/distance education programme for the region using ICTs.
In response, the President of the Commission in 2006 set up the ECOWAS e-Learning Task-force. That task force’s Policy Statement now guides the Commission’s pilot e-Learning Initiative, which is designed to revolutionize education in West Africa as part of the institution’s all-round integration programme.
The principal objective of the public/private ECOWAS e-Learning Initiative is to make education not only more accessible, but also affordable for youths and the larger society. This will create flourishing ICT enterprises, making the young people with ICT skills more employable, engaged and capable of realizing their full potential in their communities and countries.43
School connectivity initiatives in the European Union (EU) precede those at the international level. This is not surprising, given that the EU is a developed region and connectivity in some schools has been available since the launch of the Internet.
Nevertheless, the EU has felt it to be important to reiterate its commitment to the information society. So, the European Commission (EC) launched the eEurope initiative in 2000 with the aim of accelerating Europe's transition towards a knowledge-based economy and to realize the potential benefits of higher growth, more jobs and better access for all citizens to online services. The Europe Action Plan was published, establishing a priority for
Member States [to] ensure that all schools in the Union have access to the Internet and multimedia resources by the end of 2001.44
This goal was primarily aimed at a few Member States that had been lagging behind in school connectivity. By March 2002, school connectivity in the EU rose 4 per cent over the preceding year, to 93 per cent (See Figure 2-2).
Figure 2-2: Internet in schools (% of schools connected by internet access type and type of locality), European Union
An EU-wide Survey, published by the European Commission in September 2006, showed that by that year, 96 per cent of all schools in Europe had internet access, and 67 per cent already had a broadband connection. Broadband take-up still varied widely in Europe, however, from about 90 per cent of schools in Scandinavian countries (and in the Netherlands, Estonia and Malta) to less than 35 per cent in Greece, Poland, Cyprus, and Lithuania. The study found no major differences in internet connectivity between schools in less densely populated areas and those in urban areas. The study also showed that broadband connectivity in schools tended to follow national broadband penetration rates, with the exception of Estonia, Malta, Slovenia and Spain, where the penetration of broadband in schools was much higher than the overall level achieved in these countries.45
The eEurope 2002 Action Plan focused on exploiting the advantages offered by the Internet and increasing connectivity. The achievements of that plan were summarized in a Final Report, which was presented by the European Commission in February 2003.44
eEurope 2002 was very successful in extending Internet connectivity, but effective usage of the Internet was not developing as fast as connectivity. Subsequent policy attention shifted to supporting the use of ICTs through an increased availability of high-quality infrastructure, as well as availability of attractive services and applications and the encouragement of organizationalchange.
The eEurope 2005 Action Plan, for example, focused on exploiting broadband technologies to deliver online services in both the public and private sectors46 eEurope 2005 also promoted high-speed (broadband) connectivity to stimulate the use of the Internet for more developed applications and services. Finally, the 2005 plan also attempted to make the benefits of the Information Society available to the socially excluded and people with special needs.
The eEurope initiative concluded at the end of 2005 but was followed by the i2010 initiative.47 Withinthat context, the European Commission promotes "eAccessibility," which is aimed at ensuring that people with disabilities and elderly people can access ICTs on an equal basis with others.
The year 2010 also saw the adoption of the Digital Agenda for Europe and the Europe 2020 Strategy. The 2020 Strategy identifies three key drivers for growth, to be implemented through concrete actions at EU and national levels: (1) smart growth (fostering knowledge, innovation, education and digital society), (2) sustainable growth (making production more resource-efficient while boosting competitiveness) and (3) inclusive growth (raising participation in the labour market, the acquisition of skills and the fight against poverty).48
Smart growth is defined as improving the EU's performance in:
The Digital Agenda for Europespecifically addresses the use of technology in education, urging, for example, that e-learning be addressed in national policies on modernizing education and training, including curricula, assessment of learning outcomes and professional development of teachers and trainers.50
The EU sought to recognize that e-learning enables people to acquire skills anywhere, anytime. Meanwhile, ICTs empower teachers to adopt new practices, to tailor interventions on the basis of personal learning needs and to individualize assessment. ICTs also cater to individuals needing self-regulated and informal learning, and they accommodate different learning styles and innovative, collaborative learning practices. ICTs also support more efficient workforce training on a global scale, improving delivery, reducing training costs and time-to-competencies.50
45 Commission Survey : “Benchmarking Access and Use of ICT in European Schools 2006,” available at: http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/eeurope/i2010/docs/studies/final_report_3.pdf
46 Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions - eEurope 2005: An information society for all - An Action Plan to be presented in view of the Sevilla European Council, 21/22 June 2002, (COM 2002 (263) Final), available at: http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/eeurope/2002/news_library/documents/eeurope2005/eeurope2005_en.pdf
47 European Union i2010 initiative, available at: http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/eeurope/i2010/index_en.htm
48 Europe 2020 initiative, available at: http://ec.europa.eu/europe2020/europe-2020-in-a-nutshell/flagship-initiatives/index_en.htm
50 Digital Agenda for Europe, Action 68: Member States to mainstream e-learning in national policies, available at: http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/newsroom/cf/fiche-dae.cfm?action_id=226&pillar_id=48&action=Action%2068%3A%20Member%20States%20to%20mainstream%20eLearning%20in%20national%20policies
The role of National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) in providing connectivity to schools cannot be underestimated. NRENs, which for the last decade have also been evolving, in many cases, into Regional Research and Education Networks (RRENs), can help to address pricing inequities across countries by:
a) Aggregating demand among universities and, more broadly, within the school sector;
b) Architecting networks with points of presence across broad and complex geographies; and
c) Working across national boundaries to create regional optical networks. 51
NRENs and RRENs originally were established more than 20 years ago in Europe and the Americas as dedicated networks for the research and education community to support bandwidth-intensive applications in research. In recent years, however, they have been established around the world, increasingly bringing Internet connectivity to schools. 52
At present, about 100 countries in the world have adopted an NREN as the centrepieceof their information and communication technology (ICT) plans for tertiary education institutions and for inter-connecting research institutes and other institutions, such as schools and hospitals. 53
Source: Edutechdebate, available at : https://edutechdebate.org/research-and-education-networks/the-role-of-nrens-in-national-development/
In many cases, schools are connected through the NREN, which may also be connected to various RRENs. GÉANT, for example, connects students in more than 20,000 primary and secondary schools across 40 countries, linking NRENs throughout Europe.54
In Portugal, the process of providing Internet to schools has been managed by the Portuguese National Foundation for Science Computation, known as FCCN. As a private foundation under the tutelage of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education, the FCCN operates an NREN that connects all schools, institutions of higher education and research labs. The Portuguese NREN is, in turn, connected to the European Regional REN called the GEANT network.55
In Namibia, the Xnet Development Alliance Trust, which joined the Ubuntunet Alliance in 2012, was established through a partnership between the incumbent fixed-line telecommunications provider (Telecom Namibia) and a local NGO (SchoolNet Namibia). As a connectivity provider for schools, Xnet’s sole beneficiary from 2004 to 2007 was SchoolNet Namibia. In 2007, Xnet expanded its operations to include all educational institutions. Through partnerships with telecommunications operators in the country, Xnet was able to secure subsidized pricing on behalf of its beneficiaries, which include tertiary institutions, libraries, teacher’s resource centres, vocational training centres, as well as schools. Beyond connectivity, the Xnet ISP offered services such as e-learning, email provisioning, website hosting, spam filtering, etc. 56
As stated by Louis Fox in a recent discussion in the Education Technology Debate:
“NRENs can create leading-edge network capability for the international research community; they enable revolutionary Internet applications; they ensure the rapid transfer of new network services and applications to the broader Internet community; they provide a platform for sharing scientific (and other) applications and resources; they aggregate demand for bandwidth and thereby create “buying clubs,” drive down the cost of bandwidth; and they create social value by including communities outside their primary research university constituencies, like primary and secondary schools, libraries, museums, scientific and cultural institutions. In order to flourish, NRENs must focus on the technical dimensions of data networks and they must also attend to the human dimension, the creation of shareable expertise for support and collaboration across many fields of research and education.”57
In the U.S., the K20 Initiative now engages schools in 43 of the 50 states, including more than 70,000 schools and millions of students. It was not conceived at the outset of the creation of Internet2 but has become one of the hallmarks of the U.S.’s advanced R&E network initiatives.58
51 A. Ndiwalana, The Role of NRENs in National Development, available at: https://edutechdebate.org/research-and-education-networks/the-role-of-nrens-in-national-development/
52Regional Strategy for C@ribNET: Provision of Blueprints for the Development and Implementation of National Research and Education Networks (NRENs), Blueprint for Barbados. Available at: http://www.ckln.org/home/sites/default/files/Barbados_Blueprint__-_B_&_F_0.pdf
53 Regional Strategy for C@ribNET: Provision of Blueprints for the Development and Implementation of National Research and Education Networks (NRENs), Blueprint for Barbados. Available at: http://www.ckln.org/home/sites/default/files/Barbados_Blueprint__-_B_&_F%5b1%5d_0.pdf
54: David West, EUMEDCONNECT3 and European R&E Developments, Abu Dhabi, 17 September 2012.
55 Belo, Rodrigo, “The Effects of Broadband in Schools: Evidence from Portugal, 2011,” available at http://www.heinz.cmu.edu/~rtelang/bb_in_schools.pdf
56Kuria, Wilfred, “NREN Opportunities and Challenges: the Xnet Development Alliance Trust Experience.” Available at: https://edutechdebate.org/research-and-education-networks/nren-opportunities-and-challenges-the-xnet-development-alliance-trust-experience/and Nuance: Newsletter of the Ubuntunet Alliance, April 2012, available at: http://www.ubuntunet.net/april2012and
57: Fox, L., “African NRENs can expand educational opportunities across education sectors,” available at: https://edutechdebate.org/research-and-education-networks/african-nrens-can-expand-educational-opportunities-across-education-sectors/
58: Fox, L., “African NRENs can expand educational opportunities across education sectors,” available at: https://edutechdebate.org/research-and-education-networks/african-nrens-can-expand-educational-opportunities-across-education-sectors/
Several countries have adopted national strategies, policies and targets for school connectivity, often reflecting international and regional initiatives. These national initiatives are important in building a national consensus to establish Internet connectivity. The paragraphs below give some examples of national initiatives. Chapter 6 contains a number of detailed case studies of such plans and strategies.
One of the priorities of Chile’s Digital Strategy for 2007-2012, for example, is to increase the intensity and depth of students' ICT usage. The goal is not only to establish school connectivity, but to ensure that the infrastructure is robust and high-quality enough to support the educational process. To achieve these goals, Chile’s Digital Strategy aimed to double the number of broadband connections, covering the entire country during the 2007-2012 period.59 Ericsson is working with the government of Chile, and with the operator Entel, to connect people in rural locations across the country.
The goal is to provide mobile broadband and telephony services, comprising voice services (2G) as well as 3G/HSPA mobile broadband technology. In 2009, Entel and Ericsson won a USD 45 million public contract from the Chilean government to provide broadband access to between 70 and 90 per cent of the rural population.
Moreover, in August 2010 the government of Chile and Entel announced a project to extend 3G and fixed broadband services across rural areas of the country, serving public facilities, including schools and health centres, and bringing coverage to an estimated 3 million people. The project, known as "Todo Chile Comunicado," will bring 3G wireless coverage to 1,474 rural sites, as well as extending fibre optic nodes to 12 regional centres, representing a total investment of USD 100 million; government subsidies accounted for about USD 43 million of this cost. 60
Accordingto the Digital Development Indicators Report published in early 2009, there were 6,835 Chilean school facilities connected to the Internet at the end of 2008, and there were 24 students per computer.61 Recent projects have boosted that figure, and the objective is to provide high-quality broadband to all students, covering schools in rural or more remote areas with satellite connections, and reaching a level of 10 children per computer. 62
In Peru, the General Policy Guidelines to Promote the Wide-Ranging Access to the Internet in Peru was issued by presidential decree in 2001. The decree created a multi-sector commission to formulate a national action plan and also set forth general policies to be integrated into individual sectors' action plans. With regard to school connectivity, the guidelines directed the Ministry of Education to submit annual plans for providing Internet access in schools.63
In Malaysia, meanwhile, the government invested up to MYR 6 billion (USD 1.97 billion) between 1999 and 2010 on its ICT for Education initiative. Most of the funds were used for computer labs to support the government’s education policy, which aims to improve English proficiency among pupils at primary and secondary schools. In 2012, the government launched the National Education Blueprint 2013-2025, which continues to build on previous initiatives. The Blueprint aims to (1) equip 10,000 national schools nationwide with 4G Internet access, (2) establish a virtual learning platform, and (3) embed ICTs in teaching and learning for teachers, students, and parents through the expansion of the 1BestariNet (Wi-Fi) programme to all schools.
Under the Blueprint, Malaysia has also undertaken to increase the number of ICT devices in its schools, up to a ratio of students per one device. The programme also foresees lowering the ratio, depending on the availability of funds and impact assessment. Under the 2013-2025 Programme, the government also will also pilot distance-learning and self-paced learning before scaling-up nationwide.
A School Examination Analysis System (SAPS) will also be introduced online for 500 schools, enabling educators to monitor students’ progress. This will be part of a project to encourage partnerships among parents, community and private sector.
The government will also invest in ICT solutions for groups with specific needs such as rural schools, under-enrolled schools, and gifted students to enable cost-efficient access to high-quality teaching and learning resources. 64
Colombia has established Compartel, a programme financed through the Fund for Information Technologies and Communication. Compartel has invested USD 365.7 million to provide broadband Internet connectivity to public institutions and community access centres throughout the country. To date, these investments have benefitted 20,656 public institutions, of which 13,691 are educational organizations. It is expected that Compartel will deliver connectivity to the 2,288 remaining schools, mostly in rural areas, thus managing to provide connectivity to schools in 27 departments of the country.65
In addition, the Colombian government awarded a USD 126.3 million tender for the Connectivity of Public Institutions, a project led by Compartel. This money will go to the companies Telebucaramanga, Unión Temporal Aprende Digital, Unión Temporal Internet Para Todos, Unión Temporal Colombia Digital, Media Commerce Partners, Unión Temporal Gilat Fontic and BT Latam Colombia S.A. to provide connectivity to 6,852 rural public schools. .
The Computadores para Educar programme in Colombia has benefited about 6.5 million children countrywide. 66 Since 2009, this ambitious programme has been driven by the Ministry of Education. The goal is to connect all official schools by 2014, and more than 320,000 laptops were acquired in 2012 to meet that goal.67
The Computadoresprogramme also includes a strategy to train 28,000 teachers in schools nationwide. To achieve this, a team of 2,300 ICT managers will provide training to teachers in ICT skills, in order to improve classroom practices. 68
Over the past decade, Portugal has defined a series of programmes to invest in educational “transformation” – i.e., to help improve education through the widespread introduction of new technologies, low-cost laptops, broadband connectivity, educational content and related training and support to schools. The programme has been part of a larger initiative to help fuel economic development and transform society.
As part of these programmes, the Technological Plan for Education (PTE) was approved in April 2007 as a national strategy to modernize Portuguese schools technologically. To achieve this, classes will be turned into interactive spaces to enable the sharing of knowledge without barriers or obstacles. Teachers, students and other school staff will be certified with ICT skills and, in addition, students will be prepared for the information society. 69
Within the PTE, several projects were established, including build-out of high-speed broadband Internet access for all schools, Internet access in all classrooms and school spaces, increasing the number of computers and support equipment, as well as their availability outside class periods, and building ICT competency and certification for teachers.
One project of the PTE aimed specifically at primary school children and pupils in the early years of lower secondary school. Known ase.escolinha, it aimed to guarantee the general use of computers and the Internet in primary schools in order to promote access to knowledge. e.escolinha complements other programmes:, e.escola for older students, e.professor for teachers, and e.oportunidades for adults in adult education programmes.
ICT has been fully integrated into the Portuguese education system. Students and teachers have easy access to online portals, enabling knowledge-sharing and the ability to share best practices. While Internet safety is not a compulsory part of the curriculum to date, schools can access monthly competitions with an Internet safety theme through the Segura.net website, which also gives access to lesson plans containing a safety theme.70
59 Estrategia Digital Chile 2007-2012, Capitulo 2: Objetivos y Metas, available at: http://www.guiadigital.gob.cl/sites/default/files/estrategia_digital_2007_2012.pdf
60 TIC en la Educacion, Indicadores de Desarrollo Digital en Chile, Estrategia Digital del Gobierno de Chile, available at: http://intrawww.ing.puc.cl/siding/public/ingcursos/cursos_pub/descarga.phtml?id_curso_ic=2069&id_archivo=76886
61 Ericsson Selected for Mobile Broadband in Rural Chile. Available at: http://www.convergedigest.com/2010/12/ericsson-selected-for-mobile-broadband.html
62 Government launches broadband programme to connect for free to all schools in Chile. Available at: http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/sis/newslog/2011/05/19/GovernmentLaunchesBroadbandProgramToConnectForFreeToAllSchoolsInChile.aspx
63Decreto Supremo No. 066-2001-PCM, Lineamientos de Politicas Generales para Promover la Masificacion del Acceso a Internet en el Peru, Anexo – Politicas Generales, available at: http://www.codesi.gob.pe/normatividad/codesi_nacionales.php.
64Asia Pacific Futurgov,, Malaysia launches blueprint for education system ICT reform, September 2012. Availablle at: http://www.futuregov.asia/articles/2012/sep/17/malaysia-reform-education-system-ict-education-blu/
67Speechof the Colombian Minister of Information and Communication Technologies, Dra. María del Rosario Guerra to the 2010 ITU Development Conference Regional Preparatory Conference for the Americas, held in Santa Marta, Colombia, from 9 to 11 September, 2009, available at: http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/conferences/rpm/2009/ams/documents/OpeningStatement_Minister-es.html
69Trucano, M., Around the World with Portugal's eEscola Project and Magellan Initiative, EduTech. Available at: http://blogs.worldbank.org/edutech/portugal
70Global Resource and Information Directory, Portugal report. Available at: http://www.fosigrid.org/europe/portugal
There are multiple strategies to connect schools, and, on a micro level, multiple ways to identify and select candidate schools and networking options. There are also various regulatory tools that governments can implement to foster school connectivity. In addition, different funding mechanisms can be utilized by countries to carry out school connectivity. Lastly, there is a need for countries to include monitoring and evaluation as part of their school connectivity plans. Several best practices can be combined in a School Connectivity Checklist. An annotated model NSCP is attached in Annex 2.
A growing number of countries are elaborating "ICT for education" (ICT4E) policies (Table 3.1). Policy goals regarding digital inclusion need to be translated into a practical plan and concrete action points for connecting schools. Developing a plan is critical to bringing a strategy from the conceptual stage to the practical level. A plan should address who is in charge of coordination and implementation, how to identify the schools that will be connected, funding sources, technologies to be used, and how the connectivity will be sustained. A plan also can align education sector targets with national ICT goals. And it can promote mechanisms to involve all key stakeholders.
Table 3-1: ICT4E Policies
ICT for Education Policy
School connectivity goal [Timetable]
National Policy for New Information and Communication Technologies for Schools (2005)
Ministry of Education
Develop the infrastructure that will permit establishing a connection to access ICTs in all of the national territory, supplying schools, institutions and teacher training centres, technical schools and universities.
Policies and Strategies on Information and Communication Technology for Education in Cambodia (2004)
Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport
Provide access to ICTs for all teachers and students, especially at the secondary level, ensuring that ICTs are used as an enabler to reduce the digital gap between Cambodian schools and other schools in neighbouring countries. [2004-2010]
ICT Policy for Education (2005)
Minister of Higher Education, Training and Employment Creation; Minister of Basic Education, Sport
All educational sites are to be connected
School connectivity plans cannot stand alone. In order to be effective, they must be consistent with policies to promote country-wide ICT connectivity. Within a national framework, school connectivity plans need to be coordinated with policies, plans, strategies, and programmes for universal service, as well as broadband and Information Society agendas. In the education sector, school connectivity plans need to complement policies and plans that already may be in place to extend educational services to all population groups.
Some countries have approached school connectivity as an integral part of the general development plan for the country, whereas others have seen e-education initiatives as more linked to connectivity and, therefore, part of ICT or telecommunications-specific strategies or initiatives. Some countries envision school connectivity as part of education policy.
Mechanisms to Implement School Connectivity Initiatives at National Level
Some of the variety of national approaches to connectivity planning can be seen in the following examples.
ICT4D/National ICT Programmes with e-education, e-health and e-government aspects
Telecoms-specific initiatives and programmes, often focusing on connectivity in particular:
Source: Pygma Consulting International, LLC.
School connectivity strategies can be incorporated into more general education master plans. However, those broad education plans are unlikely to provide sufficient focus on the revolutionary impact that ICT use can have on learning, curriculum development, teacher training and infrastructural changes to the school environment. Furthermore, education master plans tend to be developed infrequently, whereas ICT is a rapidly evolving area. A specific e-education plan will ensure that proper focus and detail is devoted to school connectivity and that implementation targets are feasible and fundable.
A detailed ICT-for-education strategy is also essential to facilitate funding from development partners. For example, in Botswana, school connectivity is addressed in the national 2007 ICT Policy, which calls for all schools to be connected to the Internet by 2010.71 However, the Policy does not provide the necessary implementation details, nor does it specify how school connectivity fits into the overall educational philosophy. As a result, implementation has lagged behind, with few schools getting connected.72http://www.mmegi.bw/index.php?sid=1&aid=51&dir=2007/August/Wednesday15
While no two countries will develop their connectivity plans in the same manner, it is crucial to implement some kind of defined process. The ultimate plan may differ from that envisioned at the outset of the process, but ideally the changes will reflect the beneficiaries’ needs, the resources available from government and other sources, and the potential of the technologies to be employed. Also, it is necessary to devise monitoring and evaluation mechanisms that will give the plan flexibility to adjust to changes in funding or technologies.
While processes will vary, there are common elements. When developing a plan for school connectivity a country needs to determine certain key parameters by which the plan’s connectivity goals and targets will be guided and carried out. Each country has a different set of needs, but countries that have implemented school connectivity projects have considered the following key elements:
Figure 3-2: Key Considerations for School Connectivity
A more consolidated vision for the development of initiatives can be achieved through stakeholder coordination and discussion, as well as careful planning between various elements affecting ICT in education and the establishment of a holistic approach. Planning should take into account financial, cultural and technological elements, as well as global and regional trends. Planning should then strike a balance among these elements. Against this background, stakeholders should analyse how ICTs may be used effectively for teaching, learning and administration; consensus should be reached on such issues. The integration of ICT in education is a complex task, requiring careful planning and consultations with various stakeholders.
Different stakeholders bring different concerns and competencies to school connectivity plans. ICT stakeholders are experts in infrastructure (connectivity and accessibility), whereas education stakeholders primarily focus on budget, curriculum, professional development and research. Developments in both sectors undoubtedly affect both the sustainability and scalability of school connectivity.
On the governmental level, in addition to the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Communications, other government agencies have an interest in school connectivity. These other stakeholders should be incorporated into school connectivity plans to ensure coordination and consensus on strategies. Stakeholders can include elected government leaders, ICT ministries and regulatory agencies, national planning agencies or the entity responsible for managing the Universal Service Fund. In countries with a decentralized educational system, local governments also have a strong interest in school connectivity.
Beyond the governmental actors, private-sector and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can play key roles in advancing school connectivity. Their participation should also be taken into consideration when developing school connectivity plans.
The private sector -- particularly service providers and equipment vendors -- are likely to be engaged in the planning, deployment and operation of projects to expand connectivity, regardless of the project structure or funding process. NGOs, meanwhile, play leading roles in many countries by implementing projects to expand ICT access in schools. NGOs can provide valuable information to policymakers about what has and has not worked in their experience and potential challenges in replicating or expanding the scale of their programmes.
Countries also need to consider the interests and needs of the end users. In addition to school officials, end-user interests also include students and their families, as well as representatives of specific groups that may have special requirements, such as women and girls, indigenous peoples and persons with disabilities.
The participation and contribution of all these key stakeholders can make school connectivity plans more effective and sustainable. It also can increase support from constituent groups that feel they have had a meaningful impact on policy development.
Figure 3-1: Stakeholders in School Connectivity
An illustration of such collaboration can be found in Australia, where the government is investing over USD 2.1 billion to support the effective integration of ICTs in Australian schools. This is in line with the government’s broader education initiatives, including the Australian Curriculum. The National Broadband Network (NBN) will deliver high-speed broadband connections to individual schools, homes and workplaces. The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations is continuing to work closely with the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy and school authorities to ensure that the bandwidth needs of schools are understood throughout the progressive NBN rollout process.73
73: Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, Digital Education and Technology in Schools homepage, Available at: http://deewr.gov.au/digital-education-and-technology-schools
Very few developing countries have the financial, technical, personnel or logistical resources to quickly connect all schools to the Internet -- although in at least one case (Macedonia) it has been done in less than a year (see case study on Macedonia). If all schools are eventually to be provided with Internet access through a top-down process, coordinated by the Ministry of Education, then priorities need to set about which schools should be covered first by the connectivity plan.
In some countries, there is no plan or, even if one exists, implementation is slow or blocked because of a lack of government funding. In those cases, there may be bottom-up initiatives, driven by NGOs or schools themselves, for connecting educational institutions. Another possibility is hybrid approaches where there are national connectivity programmes funded by the government but schools have to apply for funding.
Table 3-2: Approaches to Selecting Schools for Connectivity
Governments need to decide which educational levels (e.g., primary, secondary, tertiary) the connectivity plan will target. The number of schools and students in most countries resembles a pyramid structure, with tertiary institutions having fewer students, followed by secondary schools and then primary schools.
Most countries have initially focused on secondary schools. One reason is that tertiary institutions (i.e., colleges and universities) are often administered differently and have their own plans and priorities. Another is that universities in most countries generally already have Internet connectivity. In terms of primary and secondary schools, the number of institutions is a key factor. Since there are fewer secondary schools than primary schools, it is more cost-effective to provide connectivity to the former. It is also felt that secondary students, being older, will benefit more from having Internet connectivity and are closer to entering the workforce, which increasingly requires ICT skills. This is not to say that primary schools should be ignored, but rather sequenced for later connectivity.
Figure 3-3: Size Relationship among School Levels
Countries also need to decide the type and locations of schools to be connected. In terms of public (i.e., government owned) or private schools, the former are almost always a priority, given that planning and funding is from the Ministry of Education, whose main focus is on the public school system. It is also assumed that private schools have greater resources to fund their own connectivity.
While it may be socially desirable to connect rural or remote schools, in some countries providing access to large urban schools will have an initially greater benefit by covering more students at a lower cost. For example, in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, less than 15 per cent of primary school students live in rural areas. On the other hand, in countries such as India, the Philippines and Sri Lanka, more than half of all pupils do.
Table 3-3: Distribution of Primary Students by School Location, 2008
Source: UNESCO Institute for Statistics, A View Inside Primary Schools: A World Economic Indicators (WEI) Cross-National Study, 2008
In Namibia, schools to be connected to SchoolNet, a non-profit organization providing sustainable Internet access to schools, are selected based on a number of factors and scored based on a point system. Factors include the school level, whether there is access to electricity and telecommunications, teacher to student ratios, and distance from the nearest town.74 Schools are allotted points based on these factors, and the point totals are used to identify the highest-priority schools.
Source: Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida)
Schools serving specific groups, or in particular locations, have been targeted for special school connectivity programmes in some countries. In Canada, the First Nation75 SchoolNet programme provides Internet access, computer equipment and technical support to schools on reserves for aboriginal peoples throughout Canada, particularly those schools not yet connected to the Internet.76In Chile, where the majority of students are in private schools or schools funded by municipalities, the country’s Enlaces programme targets school connectivity for federally subsidized public schools.
An inventory of school infrastructure will help determine the potential for connectivity, as well as the need for different connectivity models that fit different schools' circumstances and needs. The inventory includes identifying which schools already have Internet access, and whether that access could be improved. The Ministry of Education, after all, may not be aware of schools that have been connected through local or NGO initiatives.
The inventory also can include identifying which schools have supportive infrastructure, such as telephone lines and electricity. Schools might then be classified by their potential for connectivity and the type of connectivity to be made available according to their infrastructural capacity. Pakistan has proposed the following categorization:
“The TIU [Technical Implementation Unit] will establish categories ranging from “no infrastructure” for technology in some rural areas, to “high-level” infrastructure in many urban schools. Thousands of non-electrified, rural primary schools might only be able to use battery-powered devices and fall into a low-technology category. Urban schools might be able to support a laboratory of new computers with high bandwidth Internet connections through a local area network, and thus fall into a high-technology category. Schools will receive ICT “packages” in accordance with the “readiness” category. Ultimately, the goal must be for low-technology schools to move upwards to higher technology categories.”77
74 SIDA, Evaluation of Swedish Support to SchoolNet Namibia. (2004).
75 In Canada, the term First Nations refers to indigenous groups in the country.
76 First Nations SchoolNet Programme, available at: http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/edu/ep/index1-eng.asp
Implementing a national school connectivity plan is often a long-term process. It is essential for a school connectivity plan to have a timeframe, particularly given the multiple, inter-related variables that need to be taken into consideration. Those variables include sequencing of schools to be connected, the status of the local Internet network, whether appropriate policies and regulations are in place and whether funding is available. A realistic timetable helps to ensure that implementation goals are feasible and that the project remains on track, particularly if ongoing monitoring and accomplishment milestones are built into the timetable.
Morocco’s Generalization of ICTs in Learning (GENIE) programme was created in 2005 to enhance the availability of computer labs with Internet connectivity in public schools. The first phase of the programme envisaged a three year deployment timetable.78 It is interesting to note that a review of targets was built into the original programme, and a revision of numbers was made two years after the start of the programme (See Table 3-4, below).79
Table 3-4: Timetable for Morocco’s GENIE Programme
Target number by type of school and year
Number of schools
Number of schools
Number of schools
Number of schools
104,000 PCs and 17,200 printers in three years.
Initially scheduled to conclude in 2009, the GENIE programme was extended for a further four years under Digital Morocco 2013. An additional 9,260 institutions are scheduled to receive multimedia resources and Internet-enabled computers. In addition to GENIE, Digital Morocco 2013 also includes provisions to subsidize computer equipment, laptops and Internet access for teaching staff and engineering students. For the period 2009-2013, a number of goals were defined, including better coordination between the ICT and education sectors and integration of education reform goals into the GENIE programme. There also was an enhanced focus on governance, monitoring and evaluation, and ambitious goals were set to equip 9,260 schools by 2013, at an estimated cost of approximately MAD 1.172 billion (USD 149 million). In addition, the programme provided for further funds to allow an additional 200,000 teachers to benefit from ICT training and for digital content to be further developed.80
One goal of the Medium Term Philippine Development Plan for 2004-2010 was that every public high school in the country should have at least one computer (the level of computerization in high schools at the time the plan was launched was 80 per cent).81 The Plan also included a provision for providing about 30 high schools a year with Internet connectivity. The government decided that Internet connectivity in schools was proceeding too slowly, so it announced a priority connection programme in May 2009. The Internet Connectivity Project mandated that all public high schools be connected to the Internet by the end of 2010.82
79 Moratoire pour une nouvelle stratégie nationale en matière d’intégration des technologies d’information et de communication pour l’enseignement (TICE), avalable at : http://www.portailtice.ma/fr/node/19
80 Adapted from : http://www.anrt.ma/missions/genie/presentation-du-programme-genie
81Medium Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) 2004-2010, Chapter 18: Education, available at: http://www.neda.gov.ph/ads/mtpdp/MTPDP2004-2010/PDF/MTPDP%202004-2010%20NEDA_Chapterx18_Education.pdf
82“Launching the DEPED Internet Connectivity Project and Directing All Public High Schools to Subscribe to Internet Connectivity Services”, Order No. 50, Department of Education, Republic of the Philippines, May 2009, available at: http://former.deped.gov.ph/cpanel/uploads/issuanceImg/DO%20No.%2050,%20s.%202009.pdf
There are various network considerations when connecting schools to the Internet.
One is the selection of the appropriate technology to integrate ICTs into educational facilities and practices. Another concern is network topology within and among the schools.
While a narrowband solution, such as dial-up service, will provide Internet connectivity, access is slow, the service is not “always-on” and costs can be higher than broadband.
Schools often cannot afford Internet access, particularly in rural and remote areas. Given the importance of the integration of ICT in education, governments have increasingly assumed the responsibility of providing solutions that reduce these costs or subsidize the existing cost.
Various technologies exist and may or may not be available throughout the country. The different technologies may have different costs. For example, satellite broadband technology has a different cost profile than does terrestrial mobile broadband. In rural areas, networks may generally be available, but additional costs may be incurred to bringconnectivity to the school. The availability of technologies, along with their speed and accessibility, must be balanced with costs, all of which bear upon the sustainability of the project. Appropriate speeds need to be identified along with the selection of high-speed technology. However, alternatives to high-speed connectivity cannot be ignored, because they still can be useful in integrating ICT in education, particularly where broadband connectivity is still a challenge.
Source: ela Report 2012, available at: http://www.elearning-africa.com/
There are several technologies for Internet access. Availability, appropriateness and cost are the key factors in deciding which method to use for Internet access. If telephone lines already exist in the school, it may be possible to use digital subscriber line (DSL) service, which can be offered without additional investment in infrastructure (other than for a DSL modem). Other broadband options include coaxial cable or fibre-optic connections, although these options may not be available or affordable in many developing countries.
Broadband wireless technologies such as WiMAX,83 or third generation mobile or satellite Internet access are possibilities wherever fixed lines are unavailable.84 Examples of various technologies used around the world to provide Internet access to schools are shown in the table below.
Table 3-5: Internet connectivity technologies
Most common narrowband connectivity option; uses existing telephone network. Can incur significant costs if telephone usage charges must be paid.
Connectivity provided over telephone line network, generally limited to 128 kbps. Like dial-up, connection must be initiated and terminated by user; service is not always-on. Can incur significant costs if telephone line usage charges must be paid.
Mobile technology using GSM networks providing narrowband access at speeds roughly similar to dial-up.
A GSM-based technology that can provide theoretical speeds of up to 1 Mbps, depending on the implementation. Actual speeds vary tremendously. Used for Internet connectivity in some Kenyan schools.85
A third-generation (3G) mobile technology providing speeds up to 384 kbps.
A broadband 3G mobile technology.
A 3G mobile cellular broadband technology based on CDMA2000. Being used to connect schools in Guatemala and Indonesia.86
Used by schools in a number of countries. Requires telephone line connection.
Provides broadband over cable television networks. Not widely deployed in developing countries.
Local Area Network (LAN) technology. A wired alternative to Wi-Fi.
Provides very high bandwidth but costs significantly more than other options. Generally used in tertiary institutions and urban schools in developed countries.
Fixed Wireless Access
Provides wireless Internet access using proprietary technology. Macedonia has connected all of its schools using fixed wireless access technology.87
Not an Internet access technology but rather a wireless local area connectivity solution for extending the Internet access throughout a school. Wi-Fi mesh networks can be used to distribute resources from computers to computers, reducing reliance on Internet access.
Used by schools in several countries including Nigeria88 and the Philippines.89
Satellite technology generally used to provide Internet access to rural schools. Examples include Argentina, Malawi and Thailand.
Countries should take into consideration the state of their communications networks when they identify the technology to be used to connect schools. However, they can also take a technology-neutral approach, allowing any technology to be used to provide connectivity. This approach is often preferable, particularly when there are a variety of different school environments and where not all technologies may be available for each school. This flexibility needs to be weighed against the benefits of obtaining economy of scale and the full support a large project might receive by selecting a particular standard.
84 a detailed account on the use of wireless technologies for connecting schools in Namibia see: http://schoolnet.edunet-namibia.org/projects/wireless/snetwireless.pdf
87MOTOROLA “Motorola’s MOTOwi4 Canopy™ Wireless Broadband Platform Scores Big Win in Becoming First National Network.” Press Release, 16 January 2006 http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/motorolas-motowi4-canopytm-wireless-broadband-platform-scores-big-win-in-becoming-first-national-network-53540377.html (accessed 1 February 2013).
While many schools have had no Internet access at all, others have benefited from narrowband connections – for example, dial-up or ISDN. As the volume, complexity and size of online content have increased, so too have bandwidth requirements.
Narrowband connections may suffice for simple email and text-based research, but they do not provide an acceptable user experience for multimedia downloading, videoconferencing or online collaboration tools. Narrowband access can also be more expensive than broadband, surprisingly. This is particularly true in countries where users have to pay telephone usage charges for dial-up connectivity. Dial-up is also not a good solution for redistributing access within schools.
Some countries, such as Chile, have established programmes for migrating narrowband-connected schools to broadband connections. In 1998, the Ministry of Education (MOE) and Compañía de Telecomunicaciones de Chile (CTC), the incumbent telecommunications operator, reached an agreement for CTC to provide free narrowband (i.e., 64 kbps) access to schools for 10 years.90 In 2004, the MOE began encouraging broadband connectivity in schools, creating a fund to provide subsidies of 50-100 per cent for schools switching to broadband connections. By 2007, 81 per cent of subsidized public schools with Internet access had a broadband connection (see figure below).
Figure 3-6: Internet Availability in Subsidized Chilean Public Schools, by Type of Access
There are many benefits to connecting schools with broadband networks. But few plans to connect schools actually define what broadband means in terms of speed. It is important for plans to detail broadband specifications, since the connectivity requirements of schools vary tremendously. A large urban school with many students, for instance, will need more bandwidth than a small rural school.91 At the same time, inadequate bandwidth will inhibit the use of some applications, undercutting the usefulness of the service for educational purposes.
Malaysia found that a bandwidth of 128 kilobits per second (downlink) and 64 kbps (uplink) “was insufficient to support the Smart School Applications Software and communications requirements.”92 In developed countries, broadband speeds in school connectivity initiatives include:
- Australia: 100 megabits per second (Mbps) for 90 per cent of schools and 12 Mbps for the remainder;93
- Ireland: 100 Mbps for post-primary schools;94
- United Kingdom: 2, 5, 10 or 100 Mbps for schools in London.95
It is also important to set Internet speed guidelines for deployments that may be outsourced to third parties. Different levels of Internet connectivity may be appropriate for different schools, depending on the school’s size or location.
91“Effective ICT-driven innovation in the classroom requires a basic minimum transmission speed of about 128 kbps per networked computer. This means that schools with about 80 students and up require network access at broadband levels, while schools with smaller populations can rely more on narrowband delivery.” Botswana National ICT Plan.
92Case Study on ICT integration into education in Malaysia: "The Malaysian Smart School Project."
93Australian Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, “High Speed Broadband to Schools Overview” at http://www.deewr.gov.au/Schooling/DigitalEducationRevolution/HighSpeedBroadband/Pages/HighSpeedBroadbandToSchoolsOverview.aspx
94Irish Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. Schools 100 MBS Project, http://www.dcenr.gov.ie/Communications/Communications+Development/Schools+Broadband+Access+Programme/
A recent GSM Association report defines m-education as:
“Technology-enabled learning solutions available to learners anytime, anywhere. Any portable device, such as a tablet, laptop or mobile phone,that provides access to educational content through mobile connectivity (2G, 3G, or 4G complemented by mobile-based Wi-Fi) can be a tool for mEducation.”96
The same report cites three advantages of m-education, in terms of the potential education delivery and learning outcomes:
There are numerous examples of how mobile networks have contributed to providing school connectivity. As part of the Schools for the Future Programme in Guatemala, for example, rural schools were supplied with wireless Internet connectivity through Telgua’s 3G network. The project included 15 schools within the regions of Alta Verapaz, Escuintla, Petén, Huehuetenango, San Marcos and Izabal. The project called for infrastructure improvements comprising 17 computers per school, high-speed 3G wireless connectivity, teaching software and training. The expanse of the project covered the country from the north to the southwest and included coastal and inland areas. 98
Many companies and countries are also using social media to enhance education among school children. Enhancing education through social networking is expected to help reduce the significant numbers of school-age children in developing countries who are not receiving any formal education. Nokia launched MoMath, a mathematics teaching tool that targets users of the instant messaging platform Mxit. Mxit is South Africa's most popular social media platform, with more than 10 million active users in the country.99
Mobile technology is increasingly helping addresslimitations of education in two areas: access and personalization. Mobile networks and devices go beyond connecting schools -- they can enableteacher and student connectivity. Mobile phones are cheaper to own and easier to run than PCs. Not surprisingly, they are gaining ground as tools for delivering teaching content. Many mobile devices are now also equipped with Wi-Fi connectivity, as well as cellular connectivity, enabling consumers to use the best (and/or cheapest) connection available to them at any given time.
Like e-education, m-education allows students and teachers to access locally and globally relevant content, and they can share that content with other students and teachers anywhere. As illustratedby 2012 ITU data, mobile networks cover almost 90 per cent of the global population today, creating an unprecedented platform to increase the availability of education. 100
Wireless bandwidth, combined with modern mobile devices such as smartphones, offer even more opportunities to schools. These devices are transforming the world in two ways: functionality and availability. As prices fall, the devices become available to more low-income users, making them interesting solutions to be considered in school connectivity plans.
97GSMA: http://www.gsma.com/connectedliving/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/gsmamckinseytransforminglearningthroughmeducation.pdf and http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/statistics/material/pdf/2011%20Statistical%20highlights_June_2012.pdf
Satellite Broadband is recognized today as a necessary addition to technology options, especially in remote and rural areas. In Europe, for example, the European Digital Agenda has set a target of 100 per cent broadband coverage by 2013, recognizing that satellite broadband will be required to achieve this ambitious goal. Terrestrial fixed broadband network coverage stood at around 95 per cent in 2011, while satellite coverage in Europe is universal. By 2013, the entire EU population is expected to have access to some kind of commercially viable broadband service, fulfilling one of the Digital Agenda targets. 101
In the Cyprus Republic, the Ministry of Communications and Works announced in March 2009 that all villages in the country will be covered by satellite Internet access, in combination with Wi-Fi coverage. This combined service will be open and free to the people of those villages.102
In Colombia, the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication (MINTIC) is using satellite broadband service to provide broadband Internet connectivity to more than 1,600 schools throughout the country's rural regions. Valued at approximately USD 18.5 million, the project is hosted by the Ministry's Social Telecommunications Programme ("Compartel") and the "Fondo de Tecnologías de la Información y las Communicaciones." It is scheduled to be carried out through 2013. The network is expected to connect schools located in five separate districts across rural Colombia, and is part of a national tender, covering 6,800 schools, which was awarded to seven operators. The programme is part of the Colombian government's ongoing efforts to reduce the communication gap and promote further investment in improved access to advanced communications services in schools. 103
As part of its nationwide “Genie” programme to modernize ICT capabilities in schools, the government in Morocco has also opted for a satellite-based broadband service to schools that are beyond the range of terrestrial networks. Morocco plans to include 470 schools, complementing ADSL and 3G network services across the country.104
101Fast and ultra-fast Internet access under the Digital Agenda. Available at: http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/digital-agenda/scoreboard/pillars/broadband/index_en.htm
102 Connecting blank rural areas through satellite broadband. Available at: “Connecting blank rural areas through satellite broadband” PowerPoint
Establishing School Networks
Instead of supplying each school with its own direct Internet access service, some countries have found it more beneficial to create school intranets that connect educational institutions to an academic network. Such school networks allow educational institutions to be linked within a country or region, providing a way for the schools to exchange educational materials. The networks also improve administrative processes among schools within a single jurisdiction or school district and allow better access to education ministries.
A school network can reduce Internet access charges by keeping academic traffic local rather than having it routed overseas. Network links can be extended to overseas networks or NRENs. Given the limited bandwidth of dial-up access, a school network often is a better option for a single school, which otherwise might have to secure several different connections in order to provide connectivity to multiple classrooms. Broadband is a better solution for supporting multiple access points over a single connection. It can reduce costs, since multiple dial-up telephone lines are no longer needed.
A school network also provides connectivity and access to high-quality, centralized and localized digital content for both teachers and students. Plus, the network generally provides access to educational applications, content filtering, anti-virus, centrally hosted secure email, and online security services.
The advantages of connecting through a central school network are:
In addition to school networks, there are other scenarios to bring connectivity to schools:
• Purchasing a direct Internet connection from a commercial Internet Service Provider;
• Establishing a direct connection via a National Research and Education Network (NREN) or Regional Research and Education Network (RREN);
• Getting a mix of connections provided by telecommunications operators, commercial Internet service providers and NRENs;
• Establishing connections through government-owned fibre backbone networks; or
• Getting connected via a regional or metropolitan-area network. 105
NRENs consist of human networks and their accompanying organizational structures, as well as the supporting infrastructures. NRENs can connect universities and research centres directly, apart from the commercial Internet, providing uncongested, high-speed advanced communications capabilities.
NRENs are increasingly viewed as the vital and core component of modern teaching, research and learning. About 100 countries around the world have adopted NRENs as the centrepieces of their information and communication technology (ICT) plans for tertiary education. Potential users include educational institutions, hospitals and other health-related facilities, government agencies and ministries, libraries, research institutions, museums, science and technology institutions, as well as offices involved in culture, tourism and agriculture. In short, any institution a “community of interest” can use NRENs. For example, the Academic and Research Network of Slovenia ( ARNES) connects universities, institutes, research laboratories, museums, schools, databases and digital libraries in the country. The network links more than 1,000 Slovenian organizations, making the ARNES services available to nearly 200,000 people. 106
In the Republic of Ireland and in England, network connectivity for schools is provided by telecommunications operators, but schools also receive a connection to the NREN and therefore benefit from the services that the NREN offers.
In the U.S. state of North Carolina, charter schools are now receiving high-speed connectivity and services on the North Carolina Research and Education Network (NCREN). Access for charter schools is part of the North Carolina School Connectivity Initiative (SCI), begun in May 2009, for all 115 K-12 public school districts in North Carolina to be connected to NCREN. North Carolina charter schools are eligible to be connected to NCREN either through a complete turnkey connection or by opting to be responsible for part of the connection arrangements themselves. Each charter school connected to NCREN receives the same quality broadband connection, equipment, and support as the school districts that already are connected. 107
In England, 10 regional bodies (regional broadband consortia) were created to procure connectivity on an “aggregated” basis for all the schools in their region. By procuring on a bulk basis, the consortia are able to negotiate significant discounts on the price that individual schools are not able to obtain. Each consortium is free to obtain connectivity from any telecommunications operator, and it is encouraged to find the best value for its member schools.108
In Djibouti, the Connect to Learn project uses cloud-based technology to connect schools. The project was launched in 2012 by Ericsson, in collaboration with Djibouti Telecom, the Ministry of Telecommunication and the Ministry of Education. The project so far has connected five schools, allowing some 1,300 students and teachers to have access to laptops, projectors, broadband connectivity and online educational resources. Connect to Learn is a collaborative effort between Ericsson, the Earth Institute at Columbia University (in the United States) and Millennium Promise. It is based on the use of connectivity to implement low-cost and user-friendly ICTs for schools through mobile broadband and cloud computing. The project is designed to give students and teachers access to information and educational resources, as well as the ability to connect their schools with others around the world, enabling collaborative learning, cross-cultural understanding and global awareness.109
In Ireland, telecommunications operators had to bid for contracts to provide connectivity for schools. Six providers won contracts, with the condition that they support free mobile learning services. Learning devices are no longer restricted to the classroom -- many students, of all ages, own or have access to cell phones, iPods, tablets, or other handheld devices. School administrators are quickly realizing that students can use those devices to access school websites, classroom assignments, and other educational resources from both school and home.110
A 2011 Economist Report indicates that there are already 84 million Internet-enabled mobile devices in Africa. A predicted 69 per cent of mobile devices in Africa will have Internet capability by 2014. 111 Similarly, 2012 ITU data shows that the number of mobile phones worldwide approached 6 billion at the end of 2011. 112
For every individual who goes online from a computer, two more do so from a mobile device. Even where schools and computers are scarce, people still have mobile phones. Growth in mobile services has been driven by developing countries, which accounted for more than 80 per cent of the 660 million new mobile-cellular subscriptions added in 2011. Africa alone will account for some 735 million mobile subscriptions by late 2012. This means that a majority of Africans have individual access to an interactive ICT -- for the first time in history.
This is also the case in the Asia-Pacific region. In 2011, for example, 142 million mobile subscriptions were added in India, twice as many as in the whole of Africa, and more than in the Arab States, CIS and Europe together. By the end of 2011, there were 105 countries with more mobile subscriptions than inhabitants, including African countries such as Botswana, Gabon, Namibia, Seychelles and South Africa. Countries where mobile service penetration increased the most in 2011 included Brazil, Costa Rica, Kazakhstan, Lao P.D.R. and Mali. In 2011, 144 million mobile broadband subscriptions were added in the so-called BRICS nations (Brazil, the Russian Federation, India, China and South Africa), accounting for 45 per cent of the world’s total new subscriptions in 2011.113
Although there is often resistance to the use of mobile phones in classrooms, there are also multiple examples of how mobile technologies have contributed to school connectivity. Given the tremendous expansion of mobile broadband and the increased availability of smartphones around the world, the use of such technology for school connectivity must be addressed.
In France, schools are connected via a regional network that, in turn, is connected to the NREN. In most regions, the regional school administration organizes school connectivity, with traffic from the schools network then being injected into the NREN backbone at the regional level. Countries deploying national backbone networks should also plan for backhaul to allow for school connectivity. This can be done at no or low cost, including the use of wireless backhaul.
The network topology within schools also needs to be established. Apart from the connection to the Internet, there are other networking aspects to consider -- particularly, how the Internet access will be distributed within a school. This generally depends on computer allocation strategies (see Figure below). One approach is to establish computer labs, reducing the need for multiple in-school connections. In other countries, computers are distributed more widely within classrooms, or teachers use their own computers to present online content. In the latter case, a school-wide Local Area Network (LAN) may be necessary, which could increase costs and support requirements.
Figure 3-5: School Network Topologies
105 Sabine Jaume-Rajaonia and Karel Vietsch (editors), Andrew Perry, Catalin Meirosu, Christina Wanscher, Henrik Søndergaard, Martin Bech, Report on Requirements of Users in Schools, the Healthcare Sector and the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, 2008, available at: http://www.terena.org/publications/files/EARNEST-OthersUsers-Report.pdf
112 Turning on Mobile Learning: Global ThemesUNESCO, 2012,. Available at: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/unesco/themes/icts/m4ed/mobile-learning-resources/unescomobilelearningseries/
It's not enough to simply install network connections and walk away. Governments need to allocate resources for ongoing school connectivity operations, maintenance and upgrades, in order to ensure reliability and sustainability. Although initial setup and operational assistance may be received from governments, development partners or the private sector, it is critical that schools have access to trained staff that can troubleshoot problems, perform routine maintenance and identify necessary upgrades.
Technical staff needs to be trained in network operation and maintenance, management of relationships with ISPs and software vendors, as well as network security and online protection. This activity should be included in the overall school connectivity plan and properly resourced.
One training possibility is to contract with the telecommunications operator that provides the Internet access to train the technical staff. There are also private-sector network training courses available in many countries. For example, the Cisco Networking Academy provides training on computer networks for some 9,000 academies in 165 countries; graduating more than 800,000 students a year.114 In Mexico, Networking Academy graduates have been providing technical assistance to Internet-connected primary and secondary schools.115
Outsourcing network maintenance is another option. In Jordan, the Ministry of Education has a contract with a local firm to support all connected schools. 116
Some countries, such as Namibia and Thailand, have set up toll free call centres staffed by trained personnel to support school connectivity programmes.
School connectivity requires access to telecommunications networks and services. It makes sense, then, that the degree of telecommunications liberalization impacts school connectivity, since market restrictions result in less competition, higher prices, poor quality of service and fewer connectivity options.
The benefits of market liberalization increase as more service providers enter the market and competition intensifies. However, not all the countries that have introduced a legal framework for a liberalized ICT market have succeeded in creating true competition. Continuing problems may stem from regulatory barriers to entry, including exclusivity clauses in the licenses held by existing operators, as well as ineffective or incomplete regulations on spectrum management, universal access, interconnection and even numbering. Competition in international connectivity (i.e., sub-marine cables) and access to services such as international and Internet gateways is key to lowering the cost of bandwidth and broadband prices for consumers. It is important to establish effective interconnection and gateway regulatory frameworks that introduce new models of sharing and collocation and reduce barriers to existing private, government and international networks. Effective reforms along these lines can encourage existing providers and new market entrants to expand into broadband and other services.
Recognizing the importance of ICTs, the Moroccan government in the 1990s created an enabling regime for the telecommunications sector that embodied concrete liberalization and privatization measures. This led to the reduction of telecommunications costs and resulted in a rise in the number of cyber cafés and access to computers and Internet, even in small towns. One benefit was the integration of ICTs into education.
Telecommunications tends to be highly regulated in most countries. This can have both negative and positive repercussions for school connectivity. There may be regulatory restrictions that inhibit schools’ connectivity options, such as a requirement to use only licensed operators or the inability to use certain radio spectrum frequencies.
There are positive benefits of regulation, too -- both direct and indirect. For example, regulatory tools to expand Internet access in rural or remote areas can benefit schools by making infrastructure more available. In some cases, there is an explicit school connectivity provision within the regulatory framework.
Among the regulatory issues most relevant to school connectivity is universal access/universal service. Not surprisingly, several countries have coordinated or included school connectivity aims with universal access and service programmes in order to increase access to ICTs, particularly in rural and other unserved and underserved areas. In some cases, universal access and service programmes have been targeted directly at schools.
Many countries have established universal access and service funds (UASFs) that are generally financed from one or more of the following sources:
The UASF is often used for general objectives such as installing telecommunications networks in rural areas. More recently UASFs are increasingly being targeted to particular sectors such as schools.
Although in most countries the majority of UASF funds come from annual operator levies, all potential sources should be considered, particularly where funding of school connectivity is considered.
How the UASF funds are distributed varies from country to country. In some, operators bid to provide service in designated areas. The winner is the operator with the lowest bid, and the amount is then reimbursed from the UASF. In other countries, the UASF is used to reimburse designated operators that deploy infrastructure in targeted areas. In some instances, the UASF is used to subsidize tariffs for specific groups.
In Latin America, many countries have established UASFs aimed at increasing access to telecommunications services in un-served or underserved areas. Some of these funds include specific provisions for school connectivity. When countries review their universal service/access programmes or legislation, they could update the authorizing documents to make it easier and more flexible to provide UASF funding to cover the costs of school connectivity and equipment.
Ecuador’s universal service strategy includes support for providing Internet connectivity to schools, chiefly in areas where there is no existing access. The objective is to provide the majority of schools in the country with Internet connections. The telecommunications regulator ( Comision Nacional de Telecomunicaciones, or CONATEL) is responsible for developing an annual plan that identifies universal service targets for funding from FODETEL, the country’s universal service fund.118 FODETEL has financed a number of school connectivity programmes, including a USD 469,000 project providing broadband connections and free Internet access to 74 schools in the Cantón Montúfar Municipality. 119
117 infodev ICT Regulation Toolkit. Available at: http://www.ictregulationtoolkit.org/en/Section.3275.html
118 Plan de Servicio Universal , CONATEL, available at: http://www.conatel.gob.ec/site_conatel/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&catid=29%3Afodetel-articulos&id=26%3Aplan-de-servicio-universal&Itemid=88&showall=1
119 IMPLEMENTACIÓN DE LA RED DE CONECTIVIDAD Y CONTENIDOS PARA EL
An alternative to creating a fund for expanding telecommunications access in un-served areas is to impose universal service obligations directly on operators. The advantage of this approach is that it avoids the delay and overhead costs associated with administering a universal service fund. It also makes sense when there is only one operator with an exclusive right to serve a given area.
This approach can be problematic, however, if the telecommunications market is liberalized. Imposing obligations on just one operator may place an unfair burden on that operator (usually the incumbent). Or, looked at another way, it proffers what can be perceived as an unfair advantage to operators not covered by the mandate.
The Bahamas Telecommunications Sector Policy of 2001 designated that the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC), as the dominant provider, would carry out universal service obligations for the duration of its exclusivity period. Among its universal service obligations, BTC had to provide free Internet access to all schools.As the pertinent legal language explained:
“8.2 Government supports the principle identified by the 1995 United Nations Social Summit, that universal access to basic education and lifelong educational opportunities are preconditions for economic and human development. It is proposed therefore that as part of universal service, Internet access will be provided free of charge to:
(a) all public and church-operated schools…
8.4 Initially, and for the duration of the Exclusivity Period, any obligation to provide universal service will be imposed upon BTC as the dominant provider… Initially BTC will be obliged to:
provide Internet access, inclusive of the supporting telecommunications services, to all schools free of charge. 120
120 Telecommunications Sector Policy 2001 (revised October 2002), Commonwealth of the Bahamas, Article 8.4, available at http://www.pucbahamas.gov.bs/download/telecom_sec_policy.pdf.
Universal access and service funds have had a major impact on school connectivity in some countries, but there is a tendency to believe that they are the only thing needed to achieve Internet access in schools. Some education ministries consider school connectivity an issue for the telecommunication sector to solve. This can be problematic, however, because it can divert attention away from sustainability, as well as from efforts to incorporate connectivity into the curriculum and to ensure that teachers and students are trained to use online resources.
Also, most universal access and service funds are targeted at rural or remote areas and, therefore, will not resolve the lack of connectivity in underserved urban areas. So there should be close coordination between the ministry of education and the ICT ministry and regulatory agency, in order to ensure that universal service funds and obligations are formulated within a plan for school connectivity that concretely describes the roles of all parties and which also enables budgetary funding from the ministry of education to be allocated for school connectivity. In addition, there should be a way to address the needs of schools that will not be connected with universal service funding.
In many developing countries, access to wired telecommunications infrastructure is limited, particularly in rural areas. Wireless connectivity is a more viable solution for providing schools Internet access in such areas. Government policies regarding spectrum allocation and use can greatly impact school connectivity.
Spectrum is a scarce resource and, depending on the frequency and market conditions, a licence can be highly costly to obtain. Therefore, governments might allocate some portion of radio spectrum for educational broadband service, ensuring that schools can benefit from wireless communications.
In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) first allocated spectrum in the 2500-2690 MHz band to education in 1963 for broadcasting of instructional material.121 The FCC restructured the programme in 2004, allowing educational institutions to use this spectrum for so-called Educational Broadband Services (EBS), in addition to broadcast transmissions.
121 Federal Communications Commission, see, In the Matter of Amendment of Parts 1, 21, 73, 74 and 101 of the Commission’s Rules to Facilitate the Provision of Fixed and Mobile Broadband Access, Educational and Other Advanced Services in the 2150-2162 and 2500-2690 MHz Bands, WT Docket No. 03-66 at 9 (Rel. Apr. 2006), available at http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-06-46A1.pdf .
Another regulatory tool that governments may use to increase wireless broadband connectivity for schools is to reduce or waive spectrum fees for academic institutions.
The Malawi Library and Information Consortium (MALICO) has focused on establishing broadband connectivity to Malawian institutions. It launched a satellite-based Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) network in 2005.122 To assist with MALICO’s project, the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) waived most of the VSAT fees in order to reduce the programme’s implementation and operating costs.
By providing broadband access to schools via satellite, MALICO has been able to overcome problems associated with the lack of telephone line penetration in Malawi, particularly in rural areas. As of September 2008, the programme was delivering 1 Mbps via uplink and 256 kbps on the downlink to four universities and colleges.
In Peru, the Viettel Group was awarded a license in 2011 in the 1900 MHz band to provide fixed mobile services in Peru. Under the terms of this license, Viettel undertook to provide free broadband Internet access for 10 years to 4,045 public schools, with an investment of USD 1.3 million. Viettel outbid Americatel (which offered 2,011 schools and USD 1.3 million) and Winner Systems (which offered 1,601 schools and USD 1.3 million). 123
In August 2012, Viettel Peru SAC, won an additional mobile license, under which it has undertaken to provide services to at least 15,000 subscribers in its first year of operation and 357,000 more users within five years. Under the terms of the second license, Viettel must invest at least USD 300 million in installing signal reception and transmission stations, fibre optic cables, and other equipment required to achieve the target. Viettel was awarded the 20-year contract largely due to its commitment to provide free Internet services to 718 schools in Peru within the first 10 years. Viettel also committed to providing mobile services to 48 districts in Peru’s rural areas.124
122 MALICO VSATs and Connectivity (2008), available at http://www.malico.mw/vsats.htm.
Unlicensed spectrum refers to radio frequency bands that may be used without a licence.125 Many countries have allocated spectrum in the 900 MHz, 2.4 GHz, and 5 GHz bands for unlicensed use. The 2.4 GHz band, in particular, is popular for providing Wi-Fi connectivity within schools. Since users of unlicensed spectrum do not need to pay fees for assignments, the costs of building a network are lower than other wireless broadband options.
In South Africa, the Ulwazi E-Learning Partnership has connected schools using Motorola's wireless broadband access technology.126 The broadband network operates in the 5 GHz band, which is an unlicensed band in South Africa. The pilot project linked five schools in the Pretoria area with broadband connectivity, completing the deployment in just two days. There is a possibility that the project will be expanded nationwide.
However, licence-exempt equipment is not given protection against interference and must operate at low output levels, limiting the signal's range.
126 Motorola Case Study: Gauteng, South Africa, "Wireless Broadband Brings E-learning to South African Schools", available at http://www.motorola.com/staticfiles/Business/Solutions/Industry%20Solutions/Education/MOTOwi4/_Documents/static%20files/South-Africa%5B1%5D.pdf?localeId=33 .
In most countries, telecommunication operators are awarded licences that specify their rights and obligations. Conditions can be included in licences, such as roll-out requirements and nationwide coverage. Although the conditions are often defined in general terms, there are examples of specific requirements for the education sector.
The Ministry of Communications in Brazil launched the National Rural Telecommunications Program in 2009, which is intended to increase Internet access for rural populations. The programme is linked to the 450-470 MHz band spectrum auction. As part of the licence conditions, companies awarded spectrum will be required to provide free Internet access for rural public schools in their concession areas. They were expected to launch services by 2010, and to cover their entire concession areas by 2015. The Ministry of Communications aims to achieve Internet coverage for more than 80,000 schools in rural areas through the programme. ANATEL, the country’s telecommunication regulator, will have the task of devising measures to implement the directive.127
Brazil also provides an example of modifying licence conditions in favour of school connectivity. The Ministry of Communications developed its Broadband in Schools programme in 2008. Originally, telephone service operators had obligations under their licences to provide public pay phones. The Ministry and the operators agreed to eliminate this obligation in favour of one requiring operators to provide connections of at least one Mbps to urban public schools, at no cost. As of July 2009, more than 50 per cent of Brazil’s 56,720 urban public schools were connected under the programme and 100 per cent of these schools must be covered by the end of 2010.128
In South Africa, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) issues licences with obligations designed to lessen the "digital divide." As part of its "community service obligation" (CSO), telecommunication operator Neotel must provide high-speed Internet connectivity to public schools and other educational institutions.129
Another example is mobile operator Vodacom. As part of its 3G licence obligations, Vodacom is required to provide broadband wireless connectivity to 5,000 schools over an eight-year period.130 The implementation of these obligations depends on the Ministry of Education acting to identify the schools to be connected.
Portaria No. 431 on National Rural Telecommunications Programme, 23 July 2009, available at:
129Toks Dele Ovedem, Social Inequalities and the South African ICT Access Policy Agendas, International Journal of Communication 3 (2009), 151-168, availablke at: 129Toks Dele Ovedem
Another approach that can be used to reduce connectivity costs is the provision of special tariff arrangements for schools. Operators may choose to provide special, flat-rate prices or discounts exclusively to schools.
In the UK, British Telecom was the first operator in Europe that offered a flat-rate telephone and basic ISDN access service to schools.131 In the Maldives, incumbent operator Dhiraagu provides lower broadband tariffs to schools through a special arrangement with the Ministry of Education. 132
131 “Bringing the Internet to Schools: US and EU Policies” by Michelle S. Kosmidis, delivered at the Telecommunications Policy Research Conference, October 2001.
One of the main drivers of the cost of international calls and Internet access is the cost of international connectivity, as determined by physical access to satellite and submarine fibre-optic cables. Competition in the international market is an essential element to reduce those costs.
The cost of satellite connectivity remains high, yet many countries around the world still lack access to submarine cables, either because they are landlocked, because they have not yet connected to an available cable, or because none is available (e.g. in the Pacific Islands). Landlocked countries may be able to negotiate a “virtual coastline” -- the possibility of owning and operating a cable landing station in a neighbouring country’s territory. Still, they must depend on the existence of affordable access to infrastructure to and within that country in order to transit their traffic. 133
Studies have shown that countries with access to submarine cables generally have lower international call prices. And where competitive access has been introduced, prices are generally significantly lower than in those countries that have retained a gateway monopoly.
Such studies have also shown that although access to high-capacity submarine fibre-optic infrastructure is a significant factor in lowering the cost of international voice services, it is not sufficient. Countries also need to ensure competition in the international facilities segment of the market, in particular. if services are to become more affordable and accessible. Also, where there is insufficient infrastructure for national backhaul, prices remain high and accessibility is limited.
Competition in international connectivity (i.e., sub-marine cables and satellite connectivity) and access to services such as international and Internet gateways is key to lowering the cost of bandwidth and broadband prices for consumers. If countries liberalize their access to gateways and allow multiple international access providers (e.g. multiple sub marine cables, a mixture of cables and satellite, etc.), the cost of commercial Internet access will drop. That means schools that have to pay commercial rates will pay less, and universal access and service funds subsidizing costs will also have to disperse less money – or those programmes will be able to serve more areas or end users.
It is not enough to have more infrastructure and international access. The introduction of more options in terms of international connectivity must be accompanied by effective interconnection and gateway regulatory frameworks that introduce new models of sharing and collocation and reduce barriers to existing private, government and international networks. Such frameworks are essential in allowing existing and new market entrants to expand into broadband and other services.
As stated in a 2008 ITU Trends in Telecommunications Report, lower prices, increased demand and enhanced international capacity are linked. A combination of all of these market forces may be needed for developing countries to reach their development goals, including introducing ICTs in schools and attaining the important goal of providing connectivity to schools.
Likewise, regulatory frameworks that allow for free or low-cost access to national fibre backbones are essential to facilitate school connectivity. As stated in the 2008 ITU Trends in Telecommunications Report, while competition at the international level has often driven down the price of bandwidth, national bandwidth prices in developing countries are set by one or two providers and, as a result, often remain high. Access to a national broadband fibre network is as important a priority as building an effective national transportation network.
Increasingly, regulation addressing the sharing of infrastructure by telecommunication operators is focused on two broad issues that are often viewed as the stumbling blocks to speedy roll-out of national telecommunication infrastructure. First, there is the need to open up access to “bottleneck” or “essential” facilities, where a single dominant infrastructure operator provides or leases facilities. Second, there is a need to promote market investment in high-capacity infrastructure to un-served or under-served areas. This too can have an influence on school connectivity.
It may be sufficient to revise licensing frameworks to authorize one or more new entrants to enter the backbone market and to work with local government officials to secure rights-of-way to lay the fibre backbone network. Local governments could be encouraged to provide rights-of-way, for example, in exchange for connecting schools and hospitals to the high-speed backbone network. 134
Broadband Strategies Toolkit, Chapter 5.4, World Bank, 2011, available at:
134 Trends in Telecommunication Reform 2008, Six Degrees of Sharing, ITU, 2008.
Using a country’s regulatory framework to require a telecommunication operator to provide school connectivity can have repercussions for competition. Of course, this is not an issue where the incumbent operator has legal exclusivity, because there are no competitors to worry about. But such monopoly situations are becoming rare as countries liberalize their telecommunication sectors and introduce facilities-based competition.
There are advantages and disadvantages of requiring one operator to connect schools. One advantage is a minimization of administrative complexity and costs. Working with just one operator—typically the incumbent, which generally has the largest nationwide network—eliminates the need to coordinate school connectivity among different suppliers. It also might reduce overall costs, since a single operator can achieve economies of scale by aggregating schools and standardizing connectivity requirements.
It can also lower administrative costs and speed up deployment, since other methods to allocate school connectivity among multiple operators are not needed. That is an important consideration for countries where there are limited personnel and technical resources for telecommunication regulatory agencies. A single operator can internalize the costs of connectivity, eliminating the need to administer a special fund and reducing inherent delays in implementing and disbursing subsidies.
One problem with obligating a single operator to connect schools, however, is that it may be contrary to a country’s legal or regulatory framework. Although the exclusivity only applies to serving a specific market segment, rather than the overall provision of connectivity on a commercial basis, it still might be interpreted as anti-competitive within the legal framework of some countries.
A second disadvantage is that other operators may complain about not being able to serve the educational market. This may have negative public relations aspects, since such operators may be perceived as not contributing to the country’s social development.
Another disadvantage is that operators with school connectivity obligations do not always provide the service for free. There may have been an initial requirement to provide schools with a telephone line or wireless coverage at no charge. However, there is sometimes a monthly service payment required, even if that payment is discounted. If the monthly charge is waived, this may only be for a set period, after which the charge is applied. If schools have to pay something to recoup part of the operator's costs, this may well subsidize operational inefficiencies.
At the same time, requiring the incumbent to implement school connectivity imposes an additional burden that will raise the operator's costs, making it less competitive than other operators. This may be perceived as a positive development, since it tends to level the playing field -- given the incumbent’s historical advantages.
There are different options to alleviate competition concerns about requirements for operators to provide school connectivity. These include:
A “pay or play” mechanism, whereby operators can either contribute to a universal service fund or provide universal service (such as school connectivity) themselves.
There are significant challenges in managing the costs associated with school connectivity. These costs are often substantial, and they pose a significant economic burden on the education community. It is important to determine how connectivity can be financed. This needs to be decided for both the initial outlay of monies to obtain equipment and establish connections, as well as the support for connectivity in the long term.
The initial economic costs of school connectivity are largely based on the telecommunication costs for providing connectivity, whether through fixed telephone lines, wireless access, satellite service, or the accompanying Internet service provider charges. In addition, calculation of connectivity costs should include the costs for computer hardware, network wiring, modems, routers, network file services, and wireless local area networks.
The cost of computers and other supporting equipment can exceed the connectivity costs, particularly if a one-to-one computing model (i.e., providing each student with a laptop) is adopted (see the discussion in Section 5 Cross-Cutting Issues on “Low cost computing devices for schools initiatives” ).
An effective school connectivity plan must take into account the total cost of ownership (“TCO”), which is depicted in the diagram below. Educational objectives, actors and funding must be channelled to address the key steps that complement each other. These steps include the cost of deploying the infrastructure platform. Platform costs include more than the simple cost of acquiring computers and connectivity for schools. They also include the cost of accessing electricity where there is no access to the main electricity grid, as well as the cost of replacing equipment. Hardware and software, peripherals, the cost of security and electricity, are also factors. There are also costs for providing and maintaining content and applications, providing and ensuring continued user training and support, maintenance and technical support and the monitoring and evaluation of the project.
Figure: Total Cost of Ownership
Figure: GeSci Total Cost of Ownership Model, 2008 available at: http://www.gesci.org/old/files/docman/TCO-deploying-framework.pdf
In many cases, computers and other ICT equipment are provided through grants, donations or other sponsorship, but other costs, such as access to, and supply of, electricity, continued long-term, good-quality connectivity, training and maintenance have not been factored in. The absence of a holistic approach threatens the viability and sustainability of the project.
Access to power is essential for connectivity, yet extending electricity supplies to remote and rural areas is often expensive, entailing high installation, supply and distribution costs. Generators and solar panels also have their costs for installation and maintenance.
A recent programme driven by the Organización de Estados Iberoamericanos (OEI) (Organization of Iberoamerican States), called "Lights to learn," proposes to connect to the electricity network and provide Internet access to more than 62,000 rural and difficult-to-access schools. The initiative is based on the understanding that electricity is essential to providing the basic conditions required for teaching and for the use of ICTs. In 2012 the OEI will install pilot solar panels in at least 100 schools in each country involved in the “Luces para aprender” initiative, with the first being installed at the indigenous Itajeguaca School in Paraguay. The aim is to provide solar panels to the more than 60,000 schools that lack a power supply by 2014. The system will cost close to EUR 4,200 per school, amounting to a total cost of EUR 260 million.135
In addition, provisions must be made for the sustainability of the project. This will involve other sources; government and donor funding cannot be the only source of revenue for nation-wide coverage of schools. Schools are generally encouraged to devise funding strategies for long-term sustainability of school connectivity.
While connectivity costs can be substantial, multiple sources of funding are available. Given the variety of funding options, countries should develop a comprehensive approach to obtaining financial resources. This should cover not only initial school connectivity costs, but also the costs of expanding and sustaining Internet access. Governments should develop school connectivity strategies that allow for the participation of multiple actors from both the public and private sectors.
Key sources of funding will be allocations stemming from ministry budgets and universal service funds. It is important to review such sources of funding, in order to ensure that they take school connectivity needs into consideration in their future funding cycles.
Countries can also encourage telecommunication service operators to carry out school connectivity programmes. Governments should seek funding from multilateral, regional, and bilateral entities, wherever possible. They can work to get the private sector involved in school connectivity projects by establishing public-private alliances and partnerships. In addition, countries can work with NGOs and other civil society representatives to help implement and manage school connectivity programmes.
Government funding for education varies widely around the world. Most governments with a strong commitment to education have backed up their policies with significant funding. One area in which governments can publically prove their dedication to education is by funding school connectivity. While resources may be available from other sources, those funding partners will want to see a concrete financial commitment by the government to indicate long-term sustainability.
In order to fund school connectivity, governments must either increase or reorient education budgets. Additional government-related funding options include utilizing telecommunication sector regulatory tools such as universal service funds or implementing preferential tariffs and discounts for schools to obtain Internet access.
An example of government funding responsibility is found inChile'sCentre for Education and Technology, known as Enlaces. Administered by Chile’s Ministry of Education, Enlaces established the Funds for Broadband programme in 2004. Through this programme, Enlaces provides funds for subsidized broadband Internet connectivity in schools. Enlaces also manages the digital education network that connects public primary and secondary schools throughout Chile.
The Enlaces funds help to co-finance Internet connectivity service so that schools have adequate connection speeds for equipment in classrooms, teacher lounges, and libraries. According to Enlaces, 75 per cent of subsidized schools have access to the Internet, and 67 per cent of these have access to broadband. In 2008, 2,644 schools were granted funds for broadband Internet connectivity.136 Chile’s Technologies for a Quality Education Plan, announced in 2007, foresees an additional USD 200 million being spent on school infrastructure, including connectivity and computers, through 2010.
In 2011, the Chilean Minister of Transport and Telecommunications, Pedro Pablo Errazuriz, and the Minister of Education, Joaquin Lavin, announced their commitment to have all educational establishments connected to broadband networks by 2012, including schools in rural or more remote areas, which are connected through satellite. By 2011, Chile had reached a level of 10 children per computer. The programme was enhanced with an investment of USD 7 billion in 2011, and a similar public investment was earmarked for 2012 through the Global Telecommunication Development Fund. The aim was to increase the number of connected schools, which at that time amounted to 5,600 schools. The 2011 Plan aimed to raise the standards of these schools, and to connect the schools that were not yet connected, thus reaching more than 11,600 schools. 137
The Philippines provides an example of reallocating existing funding. The Department of Education (the federal education ministry) is reorganizing its budget to fund the country’s plan to provide Internet access to all public high schools.138
Centro de Educacion y Tecnologia – Enlaces, Ministério de Educacion, available at: http://portal.enlaces.cl/?t=44&i=2&cc=1278&tm=2
Telecommunication operators have been an important funding resource for providing school connectivity in many countries. Such funding is often raised indirectly, through operator contributions to universal service funds, which are then used to build out infrastructure in rural and underserved areas. In some cases, portions of universal service fund outlays are earmarked for educational connectivity.
Another regulatory method used to involve operators in school connectivity has been to implement school funding obligations as part of licensing. There may also be legal conditions that require operators to offer educational institutions discounted tariffs for telecommunication services.
Some governments have appealed to telecommunication operators to address school funding, even when there is no regulatory requirement to provide school connectivity. This is sometimes implemented through operators' social responsibility programmes, which are generally guided by a written agreement between the government and the operator. The table below provides some examples.
Table 3-6: Telecommunication operator projects for school connectivity, selected countries
Antigua and Barbuda
Digicel, in partnership with the Government of Antigua and Barbuda, will deliver broadband Internet service for free to communities and schools across the twin-island nation under an initiative – entitled “Technology for Communication, Education and Empowerment.” The project will use Wi-Fi technology to bring broadband Internet access into 3,000 homes across the communities of Grays-Green, Yorks, and Lower Gambles, as well as more than 5,000 secondary school students. Digicel is partnering with the government to provide community computer access centres in 12 secondary schools, which will include the physical infrastructure, as well as the furniture and air-conditioning. Each of these community access centres will accommodate at least 20 students. 139
Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL)
A BTL social responsibility project, “Internet to Schools,” provides free broadband (i.e., 256 kbps DSL) Internet access to 45 primary, secondary and tertiary schools.140
Compañía de Telecomunicaciones de Chile (CTC)
Under the “Educational Internet 2000” project, launched by the Ministry of Education, CTC agrees to provide Internet service to primary and secondary schools, free of charge, for 10 years. 141
Through Telekom’s corporate responsibility activities, the “Telekom@School” initiative has connected all 34,000 general education and vocational schools to the Internet, free of charge. Of those schoos, about 30,000 have a DSL broadband connection.142
In 2012, the LIME Jamaica Foundation partnered with the Ministry of Education to give 300 primary schools across the island free Internet service over the next three years, which is expected to benefit more than 200,000 students. The LIME Jamaica Foundation's mandate places great priority on providing exposure to the best in ICTs to the youth of Jamaica. 143
In 2002, the Ministry of Education and Slovak Telekom agreed to a Memorandum on Cooperation as part of the eSlovakia programme. Slovak Telekom will provide Internet access to primary and secondary schools. Some 99 per cent of Slovakia’s 3,500 primary and secondary schools now have Internet access; some 60 per cent have a broadband ADSL connection.144
Through an agreement with the Ministry of Education, Antel will provide Internet connections to all public primary and secondary schools.
By 2008, some 1,395 educational institutions were connected with the following technologies:
141 T-Mobile Broadband in Schools page, available at: http://www.telecom.com/dtag/cms/content/dt/en/676864
Assistance from multilateral and regional development agencies can help with the costs of school connectivity. Institutions such as The World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the and the Inter-American Development Bank can provide funding, as can bilateral aid agencies from developed countries.
Funding is often in the form of loans covering an overall education reform project, of which school connectivity is one component. There are also cases where grants are provided, typically for pilot projects. The variety of projects, regions and lenders suggests that countries with a feasible and sustainable school connectivity plan might find support from these agencies.
Examples of multilateral and regional assistance include:
Examples of bi-lateral funding include:
151 The One Laptop per Child Initiative: A Framework for Latin America and the IDB, Annex 1, pgs. 17-18, available at: http://idbdocs.iadb.org/wsdocs/getdocument.aspx?docnum=846461
157 “The Yemeni High School Internet Pilot Project.” DOT-COMments. December 2005.
Some private-sector companies, mainly in the high-tech arena, provide support for educational connectivity.
Through its EducaRed programme, Fundacion Telefonica promotes the use of ICTs in classrooms. It aims to improve the quality of education and encourage opportunity equality through the use of ICTs in teaching and learning procedures. In the Americas region, the EducaRed programme operates in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela. Fundacion Telefonica is a social-development effort of the Spanish operator Telefonica.
The Aulas initiative within the EducaRed programme specifically focuses on providing connectivity and technological resources for classrooms, as well as capacity training for teachers and students. The Aulas initiative has helped to set up ICT-enabled classrooms in schools and hospitals, so children can continue to have access to education.158
Qualcomm, a U.S. wireless technology and services firm, supports educational connectivity through its Wireless Reach initiative. This effort works with local and international partners to support the use of wireless technologies in developing countries, particularly in the areas of education, entrepreneurship, healthcare, and safety.
In Guatemala, Qualcomm has partnered with the Ministry of Education (MINEDUC), the Fundacion Sergio Paiz, USAID, and the telecommunication operator TELGUA to assist MINEDUC in implementing its Schools of the Future project. Started in 2006, the initial stage of the project is focusing on introducing advanced wireless technology in 400 Guatemalan schools. The project will conduct a review every 18 months to make improvements and to determine the effects technology can have on education. The goal is to use this group of schools as a model that can be replicated at other schools throughout Guatemala. 159
In Indonesia, Wireless Reach has helped to establish computer laboratories that provide Internet access to more than 1,000 students in five high schools. 160
The U.S. semiconductor company Intel supports school connectivity through various projects, primarily through partnerships that have allowed Intel to provide computers and assistance to obtain broadband wireless Internet access. The Intel World Ahead Programme aims to invest over USD 1 billion to improve Internet connectivity, education, and overall computing accessibility in the developing world. Its five-year objectives for the programme include training 10 million teachers to use technology in education, and to provide schools with wireless broadband connectivity. The company has built three computing platforms for developing markets; by employing local service providers and computer manufacturers, Intel is able to sell these systems for 20 per cent below developed-world prices. 161 Intel is also working with New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) to provide connectivity and access in countries across Africa, such as Intel-powered computer labs in Lesotho, assistance with WiMAX broadband connectivity in Ghana, and programmes in Nigeria to encourage purchase of PCs for home use and to train teachers to incorporate technology into instruction.
Meanwhile, Cisco also contributed to the NEPAD e-Schools project by contributing both people and financial resources to implement ICTs in educational institutions across the continent. Additionally, a dedicated Cisco Fellow relocated to Africa to lead a consortium that trained teachers and administrators so that each participating school could make full use of these new capabilities and create a self-sustaining model. By 2008, Cisco’s NEPAD participation benefited 58 schools and approximately 30,000 students. Cisco installed networking equipment for Internet access and satellite connectivity in several schools.162
Cisco led a consortium of companies in this project, in which it promoted the installation of networking equipment for Internet access and satellite connectivity in schools in Algeria, Ghana, Mauritius, Rwanda, Senegal, and South Africa. It also promoted the use of digital educational content and teacher training in these countries. In addition, Cisco has established a Networking Academy programme that trains students to design, build, and maintain computer networks. A number of Networking Academies have been established in Africa in countries such as Ghana, Mauritius, and Nigeria.163
Working closely with worldwide education communities, Microsoft has developed technology, tools, programmes, and solutions to help address education challenges while improving teaching and learning opportunities. In countries like Ghana, Kenya, and South Africa, Microsoft has promoted low-cost access to software for schools. In addition, Microsoft established its Partners in Learning programme and its related Innovative Teachers Network, which supports teacher development projects in a number of African countries.164
Fundacion Telefonica – EducaRed, available at: http://www.fundacion.telefonica.com/educared/
159 Qualcomm-Wireless Reach Initiative, available at: http://www.qualcomm.com/citizenship/wireless_reach/index.html
161 The Intel World Ahead Program. Available at: http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/company-overview/world-ahead.html
162 Cisco supports NEPAD E-Schools demonstration project. Available at: http://www.globalhand.org/en/browse/partnering/6/all/document/20881
163 Infodev Quick guide: ICT in education initiatives in Africa. Available at: http://www.infodev.org/en/publication.347.html
164 Infodev Quick guide: ICT in education initiatives in Africa. Available at: http://www.infodev.org/en/publication.347.html
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) play a significant role in carrying out initiatives to establish school connectivity. They usually establish partnerships and alliances with national, regional, and local governments, international entities, telecommunication sector stakeholders, and the private sector. Although NGOs do not typically provide significant funding, they have been instrumental in coordinating and managing projects among different stakeholders.
Millions of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) provide critical health, education, and economic development services in developing countries, and these NGOs are increasingly using advanced mobile devices, including 3G connected e-readers, to deliver such services. This creates a lot of exposure among potential government and business users, as well as consumers. Worldreader, for example, is using Kindle e-readers to deliver books and educational content to elementary and secondary school students in Ghana.
The Fundacion Omar Dengo in Costa Rica works with that country’s Ministry of Public Education to implement a national programme that focuses on providing access to digital technologies in schools in rural and socially vulnerable areas. The Fundacion, a non-profit private entity, has managed and executed national and regional projects and programmes that have brought together educational innovation and new technologies, benefitting 1.5 million people in Costa Rica since its inception in 1987.165
Computers for Schools Kenya (CFSK) is modelled after the award-winning Computers for Schools Canada. CFSK distributes PCs in Kenyan schools, working through a partnership of communities, private sector corporations, civil society organizations, and international charities and development partners. CFSK has provided more than 50,000 personal computers in over 3,000 public and primary schools, technical training institutes, teacher training colleges, medical training centres and universities. CFSK also provides a preventive and curative maintenance programme for the computers, and has made available additional equipment such as electricity generators, as well as Internet access.
In addition, CFSK provides training for heads of schools and other administrators, teachers and tutors, and members of school boards and parents/teachers associations. CFSK also has developed digital multimedia teaching and learning resources specifically intended for the national secondary school curriculum, as well as software tools for school management. As a result of this project, an estimated 2 million young Kenyans have access to ICTs. 166
IICD is a non-profit foundation that specialises in ICTs as a tool for development. IICD is active in Africa and Latin America in education, governance, livelihoods, health and the environment. At present, IICD is supporting 32 education projects in seven countries, directly affecting more than 300,000 teachers and students and indirectly benefiting 1.3 million others. In Burkina Faso, for example, more than 100 teachers were taught how to build their own websites. They learned how to find new materials on the Internet, and to use video, web publishing and other applications to improve their lessons. A similar project in Bolivia trained teachers to create videos and CD-ROMs to support lessons in mathematics, languages and indigenous Bolivian culture. Its success inspired the Bolivian government to launch a national programme to put computer labs in 1,000 schools. 167
Worldreader is a US and European non-profit that gives access to digital books to children in developing countries. The organization donates e-readers with local and international e-books. As of June 2012, the organization had put over 220,000 e-books into the hands of 1,000 children in sub-Saharan Africa. The iREAD project was launched in Ghana in November 2010 as the first pilot study involving the classroom use of e-readers in the developing world. Interestingly, many of the books in the programme are from African publishers and authors. More recently, the organization partnered with two charitable organizations to bring Worldreader programmes to the Ntimigom School in Kilgoris, Kenya, and the HUMBLE School in Mukono, Uganda. The organization is also testing an additional platform that will enable them to extend the impact even further. With the Worldreader Book App for mobile phones, children can now even read digital books on a basic cellular phone. 168
Though not as common or significant as the funding sources listed above, there are other sources of funding available. In some cases, they offer in-kind or volunteer resources that, while not covering connectivity costs, help to defray associated expenses such as training or support.
Parents are an important source of funding. In private schools the tuition fees they pay help to defray costs associated with school connectivity if these expenses are included in the tuition. Parents can also be approached to contribute to special fund raising drives for school connectivity.
The transfer of skills through academic networking is another source of help. For example educational experts from Estonia are working with counterparts in the country of Georgia to transfer their know-how. Estonia’s successful Tiger Leap project for school informatization is being adapted to a Georgian “Deer Leap” version.169
169 Deer Leap is a national project aimed to support the educational system in Georgia and provide for school connectivity. It is a partnership with the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia and the Regional Development Agency of Georgia. See http://virtualcampuses.eu/index.php/Deer_Leap_Programme
Sustainability of ICT initiatives has increasingly been described as the sum of the inter-relations and inter-linkages between the wider policy environment, technology, telecentre operators and managers, capacity building, content and services, networks and partnerships and community. This, too, can be applied in the school connectivity context, particularly where school connectivity is leveraged to benefit the community, as described in the following chapter.
The sustainability concerns of telecentres are centred on the following issues:
Albania’s e-schools project has given specific attention to sustainability. Partnerships have played a crucial role in implementing and maintaining sustainability of the project. Although the Ministry of Education and Science (MoES) and local governments are the key partners in the implementation, the MoES has established an inter-ministerial National Task Force and expert sub-committees to manage the project. Expert sub-committees define workplans according to specific tasks and regional needs. 171I
In accordance with the Prime Minister’s request for UNDP assistance, UNDP has contributed USD 829,373 for the project and has set up the Programme Implementation Unit (PIU) located at MoES. There are also numerous private donors who have contributed to the e-Schools project:
The Government of Albania also dedicates budgetary resources to the introduction of ICTs in education and to connecting schools to the Internet.
Monitoring and evaluation are critical components for school connectivity projects. An effective plan should include methods to (1) evaluate the technical results of Internet connectivity, (2) measure progress towards school connectivity and (3) analyse the impact of broadband access on learning.
Countries with the intent and resources to provide Internet access in schools will want to carry out pilot projects to assess the technical solutions. This is also relevant for countries where schools have narrowband access but now desire to upgrade to broadband. Even in countries with widespread school connectivity, there may be a desire to evaluate new access technologies because of cheaper costs or better performance, e.g. leveraging widespread mobile phone use for m-education.
The evaluation should examine if the type of Internet access used (e.g., ADSL, fixed wireless, third generation mobile, VSAT, etc.) works as expected, whether it can support the number of access points with sufficient bandwidth and what costs are expected.173 The evaluation also provides information about the overall costs of connectivity, such as monthly access tariffs, the costs of retrofitting schools with cabling and redistributing access throughout a school and training and support expenses. These results can then be used to refine the technical solution prior to implementation on a wider scale.
Monitoring is also essential for tracking school connectivity deployments to assess whether they are advancing according to plan. This should cover both new deployments and upgrades from narrowband to broadband connectivity.
Metrics for measuring deployment are fairly straightforward. The Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development, a group of international agencies, has recommended eight core indicators that countries should collect regarding ICTs in schools.174
The basic statistic is to track the number of primary and secondary schools with Internet access (broken down by narrowband and broadband access and public and private schools) and compare it to targets set within a plan. The statistic can also be used to derive indicators such as the percentage of schools with Internet access. Additional statistics can be compiled, and indicators derived, depending on the desired level of analysis. This would probably include a breakdown by primary and secondary schools with additional disaggregation to gauge the impact of specific populations such as the poor, females, persons with disabilities, minorities, ethnic groups, rural inhabitants, etc. This requires extrapolating the number of children affected by the school connectivity.
Table 3-7: Basic Indicators for Monitoring the Status of School Connectivity Deployment
Total number of schools
Total number of students
Number schools with Internet access
Number of schools with broadband Internet access
Number of students covered by Internet access
Number of students covered by broadband Internet access
In addition to comparing the actual status to deployment plans at specific milestones, the monitoring of school Internet connectivity is useful for other applications. For example governments may want to benchmark their school connectivity progress to other countries at similar socio-economic levels.
Despite the fundamental importance of monitoring, it is surprising how few countries compile and publicly disseminate clear and comparable statistics on the status of school connectivity. Collection of the school connectivity statistics should not impose an extra burden on educational systems. Nearly all education ministries publish statistics on the numbers of schools, students, teachers, completion rates, enrollment rates, etc. The number of schools with Internet access should be collected as part of the regular data-gathering processes when schools are asked about those other educational statistics.
Once broadband connections are in place, other indicators that could be employed to gauge the effectiveness of investments in broadband connectivity include:
An important goal is the impact of school connectivity on the learning process as well as on the socio-economic development of the community. Medium-term and long-term objectives can also be assessed, including:
- Changes in classroom management practices after the introduction of new technologies,
- Improvements in perceived educational trajectories of beneficiary students,
- Higher values placed on education by beneficiary families and lower drop-out rate of beneficiary students, and
- Improved performance on standardized tests.
In order to obtain a complete assessment, quantitative and qualitative measurements are important, including test scores or grades, surveys, observation and interviews. The use of an internationally recognized testing instrument can provide not only legitimacy to test results, but a means to compare educational performance against international benchmarks.
A related approach would be for policymakers to identify the benefits delivered by a school connectivity project across a range of development outcomes. For example, policymakers could identify the effects of a connectivity project in terms of progress made toward the Millennium Development Goals, 175 or toward a specific goal, such as poverty reduction. By leveraging school connectivity projects, national policymakers could spur progress on goals such as child health, maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, environmental sustainability, and global partnership – as well as universal education and gender equality, as mentioned in Section 2.1.1 – through such by-products of school connectivity as access to information, improved educational opportunities, and expanded capability to communicate and collaborate.
Another example would be to follow the lead of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), which looks at benefits across five areas to gauge the impact of its assistance projects:176
The examples above provide ideas for how to measure progress, gauge effectiveness and determine development impacts of school connectivity. Policymakers will need to determine the metrics and milestones that will best allow them to determine the effects of their investment in educational broadband, while keeping in mind that the metrics will likely require recalibration periodically.177
Intel Corporation, “Deploying 1:1 e-Learning Environments for the 21st Century,” 2007
174 Statistical Commission Background document. Fortieth session, 24 - 27 February 2009. Items for information: Information and communication technology statistics - REVISIONS AND ADDITIONS TO THE CORE LIST OF ICT INDICATORS, Prepared by the Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development – see http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/partnership/material/CoreICTIndicators_e_rev2.pdf . In addition, Canada, the European Union and the United States have produced statistical reports tracking connectivity in their countries. They provide good examples of the kinds of metrics used. See:
Wells, J., and Lewis, L. (2006). Internet Access in U.S. Public Schools and Classrooms: 1994–2005 (NCES 2007-020). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics. http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2007020
Johanne Plante and David Beattie. (2004). Connectivity and ICT integration in Canadian elementary and secondary schools: First results from the Information and Communications Technologies in Schools Survey, 2003-2004 . Statistics Canada.
empirica. (2006). Benchmarking Access and Use of ICT in European Schools 2006. European Commission.
175 The Millennium Development Goals, available at: http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/bkgd.shtml.
176 United States Trade and Development Agency, “Proposal and Budget Model Format,” Annex VI, available at http://www.ustda.gov/program/ModelProposalFormatUSFirms2010.pdf .
177 Wagner, Daniel A., Bob Day, Tina James, Robert B. Kozma, Jonathan Miller and Tim Unwin. 2005.Monitoring and Evaluation of ICT in Education Projects: A Handbook for Developing Countries. Washington, DC: infoDev / World Bank. Available at: http://www.infodev.org/en/Publication.9.html
In addition to serving educational needs, Internet-connected schools and libraries can serve as government-funded institutions that are well-suited as ICT centres for the surrounding local populations. In areas where economics, infrastructure or other factors may present barriers to widespread broadband connectivity, policymakers can use educational institutions to offer access, training, and support services.
While the connection of schools to the Internet via broadband is a worthy goal in and of itself, the benefits can be multiplied by taking advantage of the sunk costs of equipment and connectivity, as well as the administrative and management structure of the school, in order to provide services to the broader community during non-school hours.
School-based telecentres can offer services similar to Internet cafés, such as access to PCs, Internet connectivity, and video and audio communications software. Instead of being purely driven by profit, school-based telecentres are also focused on meeting community needs, particularly for rural and underserved populations.
School-based telecentres have several benefits over for-profit Internet cafés:
School-based telecentres can encounter challenges, including balancing the needs of students and those of the community at large. Management must understand the needs of both communities, as well as logistical challenges that may include a lack of electricity in evening hours.
School-based telecentres have been in operation for several years, with Zimbabwe’s World Links for Development (WorLD) often cited as one of the earliest programmes. WorLD began in 1999 with the establishment of 12 telecentres for combined student and community use, funded with World Bank support. By 2002, WorLD was supporting 45 telecentres across Zimbabwe.178
The World Links programme drew on its Zimbabwe experience to expand to other countries and to develop a training programme on the establishment of school-based telecentres. SchoolNet Uganda, a World Links partner, established a network of rural, school-based telecentres with additional funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, while SchoolNet Nigeria also operates school-based telecentres for afternoon use by the community.
In a slightly different model, the Partners of the Future in Sao Paulo, Brazil, did not specifically develop telecentres, but instead offered community-oriented technology training in school computer labs during non-school hours.179 Although general PC usage training does not require broadband connectivity, such programmes are enhanced by the ability to provide broadband-enabled services.
In Sri Lanka, schools in the Computer Learning Centres (CLCs) programme recover a portion of their operating costs by providing services to the public after school hours. The Ministry of Education issued a regulation allowing schools to keep the money earned from telecentre services instead of transferring it to the central treasury. About 90 per cent of schools with CLCs provide after-hour use, with 70 per cent of them earning a profit. The earnings have been used to pay for access, electricity, maintenance and repairs, and to purchase printers and scanners.180
In Uganda, a school-based telecentre (SBT) Project was launched in 2004 with telecentres based at schools but open to the community, especially during holidays. The project was implemented by SchoolNet Uganda, together with the Uganda Communication Commission (UCC), the Rural Communication Development Fund (RCDF), the participating schools and the Ministry of Education and Sports. One of the main objectives of the project was to explore creative ways of ensuring sustainability of educational institutions’ ICT facilities and activities. For the pilot project in five schools, the partners contributed the following:
Bloome, Anthony, “School Networking Initiatives and School-Based Telecentres:
179 Background Note for Ethiopian Country Team,” World Bank, December 2002. “Case Study: "Projeto Parceiros do Futuro (Partners of the Future), Sao Paulo, Brazil,” http://info.worldbank.org/etools/docs/library/91628/telecentres/telecentres/workshop/sbt-pdf/case-studies/BrazilCaseStudy.pdf
Another means of leveraging Internet-connected schools is extending connectivity in a locality once an Internet access point has been established at a nearby school.
To achieve this, it is important to create a regulatory regime that enables or directs educational institutions to share their connectivity. One way to consider this concept is to view Internet-connected schools as regional “hubs” or “anchor points,” from which broadband connectivity – perhaps at a lower throughput than that delivered to the school – can be shared with the surrounding community.
In comments directed at broadband planning in the United States, Microsoft has made a case for schools (as well as other community institutions) as anchor points that will enable further broadband connectivity.182 In Microsoft’s view, and according to its research, the most daunting expense of delivering rural broadband connectivity is the “middle mile,” or the portion connecting a town or region to the Internet backbone. Once that connection is established, opportunities can be presented for the connected institution or private sector actors to leverage that broadband connection to provide service to local residences or businesses.
In the case of less-developed countries or regions, wireless technologies make Internet connectivity within a community more feasible. For example, schools can use unlicensed spectrum for municipal or community Wi-Fi mesh networks. Or, regulators can allocate spectrum to deploy broadband wireless access technologies that use the school’s connection for backhaul.
In addition, if the school or its private-sector partner is able to develop a sustainable business model for charging even a nominal fee for Internet access, it can defray the ongoing cost of its own broadband connection. Taking another approach, subsidized Internet access in communities can be used as a tool to meet universal access goals, with broadband-connected schools as the enabling connection point.
Anchor institutions can also be useful in managing the Total Cost of Ownership of school connectivity projects, particularly where connectivity projects also involve the need to provide electricity. The Organización de Estados Iberoamericanos para la Educación, la Ciencia y la Cultura (OEI) aims to provide rural and remote communities with access to communications technologies, but also stresses that electricity is essential to providing the basic conditions required for teaching and for the use of IT and communications technologies. It also aims to convert schools into hubs for community involvement and assembly, allowing the schools’ facilities to be used for cultural activities, literacy campaigns, Internet based training and leisure activities.183
Comments of Microsoft Corporation, FCC GN Docket No. 09-40 and FCC GN Docket No. 09-51. http://prodnet.www.neca.org/wawatch/wwpdf/68microsoft.pdf
183 Luces Para Aprender initiative - http://bancaparatodos.com/en/news/bbva-supports-the-project-luces-para-aprender-lights-to-learn/ and http://lucesparaaprender.org/web/
In addition to addressing broader educational and socioeconomic goals, the expansion of Internet connectivity to schools provides an important way to address the unique needs of special populations such as women and girls, persons with disabilities, indigenous groups, special needs and rural or underserved groups.
By extending Internet connectivity to schools, policymakers create centralized resources for providing resources tailored to the needs of these populations, whether they are sub-groups within larger schools or educational institutions dedicated to the needs of target populations.
For example, from 2001 to 2004, the Swedish telecommunications regulator, the PTS, was instructed to conduct pilot projects regarding access to bandwidth-intensive resources by persons with disabilities.184 One of the projects focused on the distribution of “talking books” to higher-education students with visual or reading disabilities. Specifically, the project involved enabling downloads of talking books from a central producer directly to university libraries – which then made the books available to students – as a replacement for postal delivery of such resources. Likewise, cloud computing now promises to facilitate delivery of assistive technology, such as screen readers, for blind and low-vision users.
While the Swedish example was narrowly focused, it shows the role that educational institutions can play in expanding educational opportunities for certain segments of the population. Similar models – using schools as distribution or training points for access to targeted resources – could be employed to reach various sub-groups within a school population.
In addition, educational institutions that primarily serve particular sub-groups, such as women or girls, or indigenous populations, could benefit from collaboration and curriculum-sharing with other, similar institutions. While such institutions may make up a small fraction of the schools in a given region, or even country, Internet connectivity allows educators and students at similar schools to share or jointly develop curricula or projects focused on the particular needs of their populations. Policymakers and educators are better able to justify the dedication of resources to curricula and institutions when the efforts will benefit larger populations, and broadband connectivity can transform multiple smaller populations into larger groups with similar needs.
Moreover, regional and national school systems can require the procurement of end-user equipment that is accessible to persons with disabilities, both in community ICT centres and classrooms. This ensures that children and adults with disabilities are able to use the available ICT equipment. 185
See Broadband for people with disability, Post & Telestyrelsen, September 28, 2004.
185 See Module 4 of the Connect a School, Connect a Community toolkit for more information on meeting the needs of persons with disabilities in schools and Section 4.4 in particular on procurement issues. http://www.connectaschool.org/itu-module/15/384/en/persons/w/disabilities/connectivity/Section4.4_procurement_policies/
Further, in rural and remote regions, connecting schools to Internet enables a new generation of distance learning that goes far beyond traditional correspondence courses or broadcasting-based services. Internet enables services including videoconferencing, real-time distribution of classroom materials, and collaboration with students in the classroom and other distance learners.
In Bangladesh, ICTs have been incorporated into the non-formal and continuing education sector. Learning centres such as Gonokendros (Union Libraries) have been established by the non-profit BRAC 186 and Grameen Communications’ Village Computer and Internet project. Although these centres are primarily set up as community centres in rural and under-served areas, the aim is also for them to be access points for informational and educational content, communication services, and other services. 187
An evaluation of an ICT for education project in Russia, carried out at the end of the 2007/08 school year, found that enrolment in distance learning courses increased by 75 per cent. The enrolment in rural areas jumped from 2.4 per cent to more than 30 per cent. The big increase was due to Internet connectivity, which allowed students to take an online training course to prepare for the Unified State Examination. 188
The common thread linking such initiatives is the Internet connection in the educational institution. It enables fast and cost-effective transmission of resources targeted at key populations, as well as sharing of content and curriculum with other institutions remotely located students.
187 Infodev, ICT4E in India and South Asia - Bangladesh Country Report, http://www.infodev.org/en/Publication.877.html
188 World Bank. Implementation completion and results report (ibrd-47260) on a loan in the amount of USD 100 million to the Russian federation for a e-learning support project in support of the first phase of the government's education modernization programme.
In the twenty-first century, the Internet has become a pervasive social, economic and cultural institution. Its influence is felt in every sphere of public and private life -- including education. Because the Internet itself does not exist in isolation, initiatives to extend connectivity to schools are also affected by several cross-cutting issues, including: (1) content and curricula for schools, (2) teacher training, (3) assistive technologies and accessible ICTs for persons with disabilities, (4) the availability of low-cost computing devices including mobile phones, (5) online child protection and responsible behaviour, and (6) awareness and capacity-building within the targeted populations.
Bringing Internet connectivity to schools is a first step. Access to an Internet connection gives educators a chance to significantly redesign curricula, making use of newly available resources, research tools and student collaboration mechanisms.
The availability of appropriate content and curricula fuels the incorporation of broadband-enabled resources into educational programmes. Costa Rica, for example, introduced computers in primary schools in rural and marginal urban areas, along with the Logo programming language and other software tools. This has supported teaching methods and collaborative classroom activities to develop students’ cognitive skills and creativity.189
There are particular needs for content addressing the interests and needs of, for example, indigenous people, persons with disabilities, and women and girls, among others. These are explored more fully in Modules 3, 4 and 5, respectively, of the Connect a School, Connect a Community Toolkit.
Beyond educational settings, if content and tools are made available to address specific populations, there may be opportunities for the community as a whole to take advantage of those resources, whether in a school-based telecentre setting, or through the longer-term benefits of meeting students' needs as they grow into adult members of society. Such opportunities not only meet specific community needs, they also strengthen ties between the school and the community.
In concert with the development of educational content and curricula that leverage broadband connectivity, policymakers also need to ensure that resources are committed to training educators. Specifically, teachers need to understand how to locate appropriate resources online, how to make ICT-enabled or mobile-enabled content and activities an integral part of their curricula, and how to leverage applications that enable collaboration among students, among teachers and between the two groups. Training is also critical, since ICT deployment cannot proceed if teachers are not ready to use it.
By providing initial and ongoing training for teachers, policymakers will enable educators to better understand the new resources available and to think more broadly about their application to classroom settings.
The United Nations estimates that there are more than 1 billion people living with disabilities around the world.190 Policymakers need to consider measures to ensure that ICTs are accessible by persons with disabilities. This means, for example, that accessible features related to vision, hearing, mobility or cognition need to be included in mobile handsets. Moreover, websites should be designed to be accessed with screen readers for the blind, and computers should be adapted for people with limited mobility.
In addition, since many persons with disabilities are illiterate, it is essential that basic life skills training be provided as part of Internet initiatives, so that disabled individuals can become independent and fulfilled members of society.
Ideally, funding and planning for accessible ICTs and more specialized equipment, known as assistive technology, will be incorporated as an integral component of ICT and education plans. However, even in less-than-ideal planning exercises, policymakers and educators should identify technologies – both hardware and software, as appropriate – that enable students with disabilities to access online resources and participate in online collaborative environments. In addition, assistive technologies can be employed to enable persons with disabilities to access existing resources that have previously been out of their reach, such as translation of textbooks into audiobooks. For more information on accessible ICTs and assistive technology, please see Module 4 of the Connect a School, Connect a Community toolkit.
Assistive technologies can include different types of input devices, such as large-type keyboards, specially designed monitors, text-to-audio and speech recognition applications, and even alternate workstation configurations to accommodate those unable to sit in traditional chairs. In addition, funding for assistive technologies could include extending the learning environment outside the classroom or school.
For example, Pakistan’s universal service fund has initiated a programme to provide ICT-related equipment to visually impaired citizens.191 Although the project is not necessarily education-focused, it could serve as a model for bringing educational opportunities to those who may not be part of the general school population.
Telecom Portugal and Qualcomm are collaborating to fund pilot projects that use 3G mobile broadband technologies for persons with disabilities. 192 The idea of broadband connectivity is to improve educational opportunities and effectiveness for all students. Using assistive technologies ensures that this includes persons with disabilities.
World Report on Disability http://www.who.int/disabilities/world_report/2011/en/index.html
191 Masun, Noshid, “Universal Service Fund (USF) Pakistan’s Special Project on ICT for Persons with Disabilities,” presentation to Asia-Pacific Regional Forum on Mainstreaming ICT Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities, 26 August 2009, http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/asp/CMS/Events/2009/PwDs/docs/Session-5-Masud.ppt
Governments and development partners around the world have implemented a wide array of initiatives to bring computers into schools. Purchasing options range from the centralized acquisition of new computers by ministries of education to the donation of refurbished computers by non-governmental organizations.193 A frequent goal has been to reduce the ratio of students per computer in order for children gain more computing time.
A recent trend has been the adoption of the “one-to-one” model, in which each student gets their own laptop. This movement has its roots in the vision of Nicholas Negroponte (cofounder of the MIT Media Laboratory), to provide every child with an inexpensive laptop. A prototype of such a computer was shown at the World Summit on the Information Society in 2005.194 Negroponte then founded the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) association, which manufactures the low-cost XO computer, specifically designed for children in developing countries. XO laptops have been ordered, delivered and/or deployed to 2.4 million children and teachers in 42 countries. 195 The biggest deployment has been in Uruguay, which provided all of its primary school children with a laptop before the end of 2009.196
Some development agencies are playing a significant supporting role in the OLPC movement. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is providing funding support for pilots in Uruguay,197 Brazil, Honduras,198 Peru, Haiti199 and Paraguay.200 The United States Agency for International Development provides assistance for Afghanistan’s OLPC project,201 while the Danish government is assisting with funding an OLPC pilot in Nepal.202
The growing visibility of the one-to-one computing movement has attracted the attention of the electronics industry. Semi-conductor giant Intel now offers a low-cost computer, the Classmate, intended for use in educational settings in developing nations. The Classmate is being used for Portugal’s e-school initiative, and Venezuela ordered one million of them in 2009. 203 The ASUS Eee Netbook, manufactured by a Taiwanese electronics company, has also been deployed for education in several countries, including a one million unit order for schools in Russia. Brazil awarded a tender for 150,000 Indian-manufactured Mobilis laptops as part of its One Computer Per Student programme.204
In Thailand, the One Tablet Per Child (OTPC) project officially launched in 2012. The Thai government planned to distribute tablets made in China to all first graders in the academic year of 2012, and to extend the distribution to seventh grade students the following year.205
The relevance of these projects for school connectivity is that there is often a networking component involved. Most one-to-one deployments are designed to incorporate school computer servers connected to the Internet in order to download software, electronic textbooks and educational applications to the school laptops. As a result, the low cost computing device movement is focusing increased attention on the necessity for school connectivity.
One of the largest is UK-based Computer Aid International which has delivered around 150,000 refurbished computers to more than 100 countries. See: http://www.computeraid.org/
194 “UN debut for USD 100 laptop for poor,” BBC, 17 November 2005. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/4445060.stm (accessed 5 August 2009).
197 Uruguay http://www.iadb.org/en/mapamericas/uruguay/computer-use-in-schools-strengthened-and-extended-beyond-the-classroom,5839.html
198 Brazil Eugenio Severin and Christine Capota, One-to-One Laptop Programs in
Latin America and the Caribbean, Panorama and Perspectives, Inter-American Development Bank Education Division (SCL/EDU) TECHNICAL NOTES, April 2011, available at: http://idbdocs.iadb.org/wsdocs/getdocument.aspx?docnum=35989594
202 http://blog.olenepal.org/index.php/archives/182 and
204 Cieglinski168Cieglinski, Amanda, “MEC conclui pregão de compra do programa Um Computador por Aluno” Agência Brasil, 18 December 2008. http://agenciabrasil.ebc.com.br/noticia/2008-12-18/mec-conclui-pregao-de-compra-do-programa-um-computador-por-aluno (accessed 4 February 2013).
While much attention is paid to expanding connectivity and access to online resources in educational settings, increased access to the Internet also brings risks, especially for young users. Policies and plans to connect students to the Internet also need to consider measures to protect children from malicious actors and inappropriate content. Children need to be taught responsible online behaviour.
The ITU’s Child Online Protection (COP) initiative is working to address the relevant legal, technical, organizational, and procedural issues, and also to encourage capacity-building and international cooperation.206
Policymakers and educators need to strike a balance between implementing measures to simply block access to dangerous or sensitive materials or communities, and providing an online environment in which students can learn and exercise good judgment regarding safe and responsible computing. Educational institutions continue to implement and refine Internet filtering software, even though such measures can stir controversy regarding censorship. Moreover, filtering guidelines can be subjective or ineffective.
The ideal solution may be a combination of filtering the most objectionable or unsafe material and instructing educators and students on basic concepts of responsible computing. This is particularly relevant given that students will not always be accessing the Internet behind school firewalls. A solid foundation of safe computing behaviour will allow students to apply the principles to new and evolving online environments.
One key to realizing the optimal benefits of Internet-connected schools is educating not only the administrators, teachers and students who use the technology, but also reaching out to those who do not. The education of target populations should go beyond instruction in how to operate and interact with Internet-enabled resources. There should also be a more general effort to raise awareness of the educational and societal benefits of ICTs.
In particular, policymakers and educators should implement measures to increase awareness and adoption among the “offline” population by demonstrating the ways broadband applications and services can be applied to their particular needs. These might include e-government services, research to improve agricultural production, or improved and less-expensive communication with distant relatives. In much the way that teachers and students can incorporate broadband-enabled applications and services into their curricula, the community at large can apply online information and resources to their own needs once they understand the available opportunities.
In addition, the target populations can be engaged to learn the skills that enable them to maintain and repair computers and network equipment. Beyond the microeconomic impact of training individuals who could obtain paid positions providing technical support, a local base of support staff enables communities to be less-reliant on outside expertise, whether from a government, operator, vendor or NGO. Local solutions enable community broadband access points to be self-sustaining, reducing the likelihood that equipment and connectivity will be lost if a key component fails.
This Section features case studies about school connectivity projects and experiences from different countries around the world. The examples underline different approaches to school connectivity, including (1) establishing special programmes to implement connectivity for specific schools (Chile, Portugal and Thailand); 2) bringing together development partners and new technologies ( Macedonia); (3) subsidizing Internet access tariffs for schools (United States); (4) Setting up public/private partnerships to achieve connectivity and ICT in education (Antigua and Barbuda); (5) focusing on school connectivity as part of national ICT Policy (Albania and Colombia), including broadband policy and plans; and (6) making school connectivity part of universal access and service policy and strategy (Ghana).
The Government of Albania recognizes that the public education system is critical to Albanian society. It has embarked on a path to prepare students to work and excel in an information-based, technologically advanced society. Within this context, the government initiated the e-School Programme in December 2005, assisted by UNDP. The main goal was to introduce ICT skills to Albanian students in both primary and secondary schools. The programme provided modern computer labs equipped with high-speed, reliable Internet connectivity. It also addressed the needs and capacity of teachers to use ICTs through a number of practical training courses and ICT curricula. The emphasis was on Internet connectivity, bridging the digital divide and raising awareness of ICT needs in schools. 207
Assisted by UNDP, the Albanian government created a working group in late 2005 to draft the Master Plan for the e-School Programme, which was adopted and officially launched by the Albanian Prime Minister on 19 December 2005. During the implementation of the project, a set of ICT educational targets was introduced, including the objectives that all public high schools (376 high schools) and 800 elementary schools be equipped with modern computer labs, along with well-defined standards for hardware, networks and applications. The plan also called for teacher training on ICT basics, the use of computers and productivity applications, basic Internet techniques, and basic computer and network troubleshooting. 208
A new, modern ICT curriculum has also been developed and implemented for elementary and high schools. In parallel, an agreement was signed between Microsoft Corporation and the Albanian government that allows all public schools to install free and subsidized software. 209
The Albanian government has continued to give significant importance to the introduction of ICTs in education. In 2010 and 2011, the education budget emphasized the introduction of ICTs, with allocations estimated at between 3.4 and 3.8 per cent of GDP. ICT was added to the curricula for 17 vocational education and training schools. As of January 2011, dedicated Internet service of 1 Mbps downloads and 256 Kbps uploads per school was available in every school with a headmaster, except for those in remote towns where five grades (1 through 5) were consolidated into a single class. The government has negotiated with the incumbent service provider, Albtelecom, to offer affordable connectivity in schools. Albtelecom provides school Internet connectivity throughout the country under its contract with the Ministry of Education. 210
UNDP Albania Page, e-schools Programme. Available at: http://www.undp.org.al/index.php?page=projects/project&id=92
208 UNDP Albania Page, e-schools Programme. Available at: http://www.undp.org.al/index.php?page=projects/project&id=92
209 UNDP Albania Page, e-schools Programme. Available at: http://www.undp.org.al/index.php?page=projects/project&id=92
210 Draft Final National Broadband Plan. Available at: http://www.mitik.gov.al/mitik/legjislacioni/Draft_Final_National_Broadband_Plan_3%20May.pdf
The Connect Antigua and Barbuda Initiative, which was launched by the government in 2006, comprises a number of elements, including promoting computer literacy, bridging the digital divide, and connecting Antigua and Barbuda to the world. Several distinct segments were defined, with the aim of increasing the usage of computerized technology by both students and adults.
Components include the:
Within the context of its programme, the government of Antigua and Barbuda has sought partnerships with investors and telecommunications companies to enable the introduction of ICTs in education and, in particular, to allow connectivity and availability of computers in schools and for students.
The Ministry of Information, Broadcasting, Telecommunications, Science and Technology, in collaboration with the telecommunications company LIME, launched the Technology for Education 20/20 initiative in 2011 to change teachers' perceptions of ICTs and how they should be used, and to encourage teachers to consider connectivity and laptops as a way of increasing student motivation and engagement. The first component in the collaboration between government and LIME is to provide 1,600 private and public primary and secondary school teachers with a modern, high-speed laptop computer and broadband Internet access at their homes. The teachers also will get subsidized Internet service installation at their homes (at a cost of USD 59 plus tax). Additionally, the government is paying the bills for the first four months of Internet access once the service has been installed at their homes. The second component of the initiative is to fully Wi-Fi enable all secondary schools across Antigua and Barbuda.212
In addition, in July 2012, the government launched its Government-Assisted Technology Endeavour (GATE) as a partnership with regional telecom firm Digicel to improve Antigua’s broadband Internet connectivity and stimulate growth in innovation, entrepreneurship, job creation and sustainability. GATE has four major components:
(1) An ICT Cadet Programme, which was launched in June 2012, aimed at targeting individuals who have completed secondary school for training and work experience in ICT;
(2) A component aimed at improving internet connectivity and technology in the classroom, including providing secondary school students with a 4G LTE computer tablet and 4G LTE broadband connectivity;
(3) A component aimed at providing 4G LTE connectivity for Antigua’s government; and
(4) A component aimed at creating a multi-purpose ICT training facility and special needs resource centre in the Michael’s Mount area of Antigua. 213
During the launch of the project, the Minister of IT, Dr. Edmond Mansoor, said that Digicel had donated USD 6.75 million towards the tablet fund, in which 6,000 tablets will initially be purchased.214
The government of Chile established the Enlaces programme to provide subsidized Internet access to the nation’s schools. It is administered by the Centre for Education and Technology within the Ministry of Education.215
Enlaces began work in primary and secondary schools in urban areas, but it expanded in 2000 to incorporate rural, less-accessible schools. From its inception in 1992, the programme has focused on government primary and secondary schools. Enlaces provides access to the Internet to approximately 75 per cent of students in schools that are enrolled in the project, 67 per cent of which have a broadband connection.216
In 2002, a new programme called Red Enlaces Abierta a la Comunidad was implemented to provide communities with access to the Internet through 2,000 educational facilities and computer labs.217
Enlaces has used a variety of financing sources and mechanisms to achieve its connectivity goals for Chile. In 1998, for example, the Ministry of Education reached an agreement for the Chilean telecommunication operator Compania de Telecomunicaciones de Chile (CTC) to provide free, unlimited Internet service to all schools in the country for a period of 10 years. Since 2004, as part of its efforts to promote broadband connectivity, Enlaces has reached agreements with multiple operators provide preferential fees to educational facilities. Enlaces also established a fund through which schools could apply for a subsidy equal to 50-100 per cent of the broadband connection fee.218
The Enlaces funds help to co-finance Internet connectivity service so that schools have adequate connection speeds for equipment in classrooms, teacher lounges, and libraries. According to Enlaces, 75 per cent of subsidized schools have access to the Internet, and 67 per cent of these have access to broadband. In 2008, 2,644 schools were granted funds for broadband Internet connectivity.
Chile’s Technologies for a Quality Education Plan, announced in 2007, foresaw an additional USD 200 million being spent on school infrastructure, including connectivity and computers, through 2010.
In 2011, the Minister of Transport and Telecommunications, Pedro Pablo Errazuriz, and the Minister of Education, Joaquin Lavin, announced a commitment to have all educational establishments connected to broadband networks by March 2012, including schools in rural or more remote areas (which would be connected via satellite). By 2011, Chile had reached a level of 10 children per computer. The programme was enhanced with an investment of USD 7 billion in 2011 and a similar public investment in 2012, through the Global Telecommunication Development Fund. The aim was to increase the number of connected schools, which at that time amounted to 5,600 schools. The 2011 Plan aimed to raise the standards of these schools, and to connect the remaining schools without connectivity, thus reaching a universe of more than 11,600 establishments.
Centro de Educacion y Tecnologia (Enlaces), Ministerio de Educacion, available at: http://www.enlaces.cl/index.php?t=44&i=2&cc=1273&tm=2
216 The Enlaces programme only applies to subsidized municipal schools. See http://www.chile-usa.org/education.html
217 Enlaces, Nuestra Historia, available at: http://www.enlaces.cl/index.php?t=44&i=2&cc=183&tm=2
218 Enlaces: 15 Años Integrando Tecnologia a la Educacion Chilena, pg. 64, available at: http://www.enlaces.cl/tp_enlaces/portales/tpee371c23bs52/uploadImg/File/libro_enlaces.pdf
In Colombia, the Computadores para Educar programme is reducing social divides and improving educational quality in the country by incorporating ICTs into basic and intermediate public education.
This social programme, set up by the Ministry of Information and Communication Technologies and the Ministry of Education, was evaluated in a study conducted by Universidad de los Andes in 2010.219 The results were clear that ICTs have a positive impact on educational quality and academic achievement. Provided that teachers are properly trained, students are more likely to move ahead to higher education, and social disparities will be reduced. The Ministry of Information and Communication Technologies’ Plan Vive Digital for the expansion of broadband technology is now taking up the challenge of increasing the reach and magnitude of Computadores para Educar.
The Computadores para Educar programme has found ways to adjust its management model in the field, not only to make the programme more efficient and to improve the cost–benefit ratio, but also to make it more inclusive and sustainable for the community.
From 2000 to 2010, Computadores para Educar provided 291,261 computers to 20,673 public schools (more than 53 per cent of all schools in Colombia), offering ICT access to almost 6 million children (65 per cent of children enrolled in the public system). Educational training was provided in 11,135 schools, enhancing the competence of 43,986 teachers (15 per cent of the total number of teachers in the country). A total of 78,327 computers were reconditioned, avoiding the disposal of more than 4,000 tons of electronic waste. The total social investment made by Computadores para Educar to groups in need in Colombia has amounted to some USD 172 million over 10 years. This investment has generated a social return of 2.4 times that amount. 220
In 2012, the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology further implemented the integration of computer delivery to schools with the training of 28,000 teachers in schools countrywide. A team of 2,300 ICT managers, who were linked with universities and schools, won a public tender to supply computers in every education centre and provide training to teachers in ICT skills, in order to improve classroom practices. "The coverage of this strategy covers all over the country, reaching more than 28,000 official educational centres, located in 1,123 municipalities," said ICT Minister Diego Molano Vega in an interview in August 2012. He noted that the strategy will be implemented in the next three years, during which 400,000 terminals will be delivered, benefiting mainly the sectors of the population with the highest degree of vulnerability.221
220 Computadores para Educar in Colombia. Available at: http://www.itu.int/net/itunews/issues/2011/07/52.aspx
The Ghana School Connectivity Project is an example of a well-defined process where stakeholders are working together to achieve the goal of providing educational institutions with high-speed computers, printers, scanners, projectors and servers and linking them with internet access.
The project is coordinated by the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC), which was established in 2004 and provides support to the Ministries of Education and Local Government by deploying facilities in educational institutions in un-served and underserved areas. The GIFEC was established in 2004 as an implementing agency of the Ministry of Communications to facilitate the spread of ICT use in rural Ghana. Its goals are to promote research and reading culture, to train rural schoolchildren and teachers in the use of ICTs, and to empower rural communities by providing access to information, so that direct participation will be increased in development and decision-making processes.222
The scope of the School Connectivity project was expanded to include other training and vocational institutions during the period 2010 -2012. By 2012, GIFEC had supported 263 educational and training institutions, as follows:
ICT centres for all colleges of education have been inaugurated throughout the country. The facilities are aimed at making all teacher-trainees ICT-proficient, in order to support ICT education, which is now an examinable subject in all basic schools. The cost of connecting these centres, which is provided under the National School Connectivity Project, is USD 45,000 for each college, so as to ensure that the centres are equipped with computers, a projector, an Uninterrupted Power System (UPS), printers, scanners and Internet connections. 224
In 2004, Ireland’s government decided that to grow and sustain a knowledge-based workforce, it must ensure that every school in the country was technologically proficient, beginning with universal access to broadband connectivity. To achieve this, the Irish government teamed with the industry body representing telecom and Internet companies to jointly fund an EUR 18 million national broadband network for Ireland’s schools. The network would integrate terrestrial and satellite communications and be centrally managed by HEAnet, Ireland’s national education and research network.225
The Next Generation Broadband Policy Paper of June 2009 stated that “connectivity to schools, in particular, will benefit from the Government’s investment in broadband infrastructure. We aim to equip second-level schools in Ireland with 100 Mbps of broadband connectivity and Local Area Networks (LAN) on a phased basis. This will enable students to learn and collaborate online.”1226
The provision of 100 Mbps broadband Internet access to all second level schools was seen as contributing to an important policy objective of the government which was to promote a learning environment in schools that:
The Irish government appointed HEAnet228 to leverage public investment while also allowing synergies and operational efficiencies to be explored with regard to HEAnet’s current operation of the Schools Broadband Network, which continues to deliver broadband connectivity to the roughly 4,000 schools across Ireland. The initial contract(s) under this programme call for delivering 100 Mbps symmetrical broadband connectivity to 78 post-primary school locations within the scope of a pilot project. The 78 school locations represent a mix of schools in urban and rural areas and have been agreed by the Programme Steering Committee, with the objective of delivering specific learning objectives. In addition, schools will receive an edge router managed by HEAnet, and access to the Internet will continue to be filtered (as is the policy under the current wider Schools Broadband Programme). Wireless LAN and ICT equipment (laptops and projectors) will be delivered to each of the 78 schools in the initial pilot phase.229
All second-level schools are due to have the 100 Mbps broadband service installed by the end of 2014. Some 200 were to receive it in 2012, 200 in 2013 and the final 250 schools in 2014. The provision of service to the schools to be connected in 2012 was to be awarded in a tender competition under an established framework agreement administered by HEAnet.
This project is the result of cooperation between the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and the Department of Education and Skills, the Higher Education Authority, HEAnet and the National Centre for Technology in Education, in conjunction with core services supplied by ESB Telecom. The Project has been co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
HEAnet has built and will maintain the network on behalf of the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. The National Centre for Technology in Education is charged with the integration of ICT within schools. They will also provide front-line support for the staff of the schools. ESB Telecoms has provided backhaul from regional locations to Dublin.
In 2012, 202 school connections were connected, meaning that 280 of Ireland's post-primary schools will be in a position to benefit from a 100 Mbps broadband connection from October 2012. Remaining post-primary schools will be connected over 2013 and 2014 as per the Government's national roll-out plan. 230
226 Next Generation Broadband Policy Paper. Available at: http://www.dcenr.gov.ie
228 HEAnet is Ireland’s National Education and Research Network, established in 1984 by the Irish Universities with the support of the Higher Education Authority. HEAnet provides an essential e-Infrastructure service across all levels of the Irish education system. The very high bandwidth network connects all Irish Universities, all Institutes of Technology, other higher education institutions (HEIs) and research organizations, in addition to all primary and post-primary schools across Ireland.
Digital learning solutions are making significant inroads into India. The government of the state of Punjab recently announced the development of 795 new computer labs in government schools across the state as part of Phase V and VI of a centrally sponsored ICT scheme in Punjab. During the first four phases, the government focused on enhancing ICT education in schools through new classes and curriculum and training teachers in effective use of ICT tools in teaching. ICT-enabled schools in Punjab have also been given access to power generators and broadband Internet connections to facilitate implementation of state-wide school management of information systems (MISs) and geographic information systems (GISs), which are under development.
Similarly, the government of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh has awarded a contract to implement next-generation solutions for teaching and learning in 1,471 schools across 12 districts in the state. The project is worth INR 1.57 billion (USD 29.62 million), and will provide computer-aided learning solutions to schools across Himachal Pradesh. The schools involved in the project will acquire digital classrooms equipped with interactive white boards and multimedia content. The project will help 618 government senior secondary schools, 848 government high schools and five “smart schools” in the state. In addition, 7,500 teachers will receive training to understand and use these technology solutions and to facilitate ICT education of their students.231
231 Asia Pacific Future Gov, Indian State Digitizing 1471 Schools, October 2012. Available at: http://www.futuregov.asia/articles/2012/oct/16/indian-state-digitising-1471-schools/
The Government of Jordan has made significant efforts to integrate ICTs into education, including by ensuring connectivity in schools. E-learning programmes like the Jordan Education Initiative and EduWave have made a strong contribution to Jordan's ICT growth and to its future as an integral part of a global knowledge economy. Jordanian law now requires all public schools to offer English from the first grade onward and to teach computer usage from the second grade through high school. All secondary schools in Jordan now have fully equipped computer labs, and ADSL connectivity has reached more than 600 of Jordan's 3,000 public schools. The number of students per computer ratio now stands at 51 to 1, compared to 120 to1 in 1999. 232
The Ministry of Education (MoE) has implemented a number of projects, including the introduction of ICTs through computer labs in public schools, as well as Internet connectivity, and the provision of equipment such as printers and, scanners. The MoE also created an e-learning portal (EduWave), which enables all end users to communicate through discussion forums, chat applications, e-exams, e-mail and others. EduWave also enhances education by activating the various e-content subjects, such as math, science, English and Arabic languages, IT, civics and health education. The MoE also integrated ICTs into the education syllabus in 2000 for grades 7-11 and provided training to teachers, encouraging them to attend professional development programmes. MoE also presented scholarships to some teachers so they could get an ICT diploma or a master’s degree in education. 233
In addition, the Jordan Education Initiative was created in June 2003 as a partnership between the public and private sectors, by the World Economic Forum and the Jordanian Government. The aim was to support Jordan's efforts to improve the level of education, encourage creativity, develop capabilities and build a knowledge economy, using the latest technological tools in 100 government schools that were later named "Discovery Schools." 234
Apart from ensuring a competitive marketplace where connectivity is becoming widespread throughout the country, the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MoICT) has begun the National Broadband Network Programme (NBN Programme), which further contributes to the development of Jordan’s educational system by increasing ICT diffusion in universities, community colleges, schools and other learning institutions throughout the kingdom.235
Concrete results of the NBN Programme include the University Broadband Network (UBN) and the Schools Broadband Network (SBN). The UBN has included the construction of a broadband network connecting all eight public universities, as well as the Jordan University of Aqaba and the Ministry of Education. The network is connected through a consolidated Internet gateway and is linked to the European educational network GEANT- Eumedconnect. The legal framework permitted the use of dark fibre cables from the National Electric Power Company (Nepco) as a backbone for this network. The universities were thus connected through fibre cables and equipment in a collaborative effort of the MoICT and Nepco. The government also signed an indefeasible right of use agreement with JUNET and Nepco.236
Meanwhile, 227 schools in Amman were connected to the Schools Broadband Network, along with 56 schools in Aqaba (under the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) and 363 schools in northern Jordan. Additionally, four schools in the Al-Azraq area were also connected using wireless equipment.237
Macedonia, a landlocked, mountainous Balkan nation, might hold the record for the quickest deployment of broadband Internet connectivity to public primary and secondary schools.
The Macedonia Connects project was established in 2004 as a partnership between the Macedonian education ministry and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), although its roots extended back two years earlier with a donation of 5,000 computers from China. The culmination of this international effort was a record-breaking connection of all Macedonia’s schools to the Internet between May and September 2005.
The project to implement Internet connectivity in all 360 primary and 100 secondary schools had its roots in a 2002 donation of 5,000 computers by China. It was decided that providing Internet access would enhance the potential of the computers.238 At the time, only a few of Macedonia’s urban secondary schools had broadband access. Broadband was not available to rural schools, and dial-up Internet access was too expensive.
Macedonia Connects was a partnership between the Ministry of Education and Science (MoES), USAID, and a local ISP called on.net. The project was administered by the Academy for Educational Development (AED).
On.net was tasked with the job of connecting all schools between May and September 2005. The summer deployment was scheduled in order for the links to be operational at the start of the 2005-2006 school year. On 15 August 2005, the wireless backbone was completed, and on 14 September 2005, a 310 megabit-per-second (Mbps) international Internet connection was launched. All schools were connected before the end of September 2005.239
AED, mk connects: Macedonia Links Education and Connectivity (2009).
238 Hunsberger, Kelley, “A Country Connects.” PM NETWORK, June 2006.
239 MOTOROLA, “Motorola’s MOTOwi4 Canopy™ Wireless Broadband Platform Scores Big Win in Becoming First National Network.” Press Release, 16 January 2006 http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/motorolas-motowi4-canopytm-wireless-broadband-platform-scores-big-win-in-becoming-first-national-network-53540377.html (accessed 4 February 2013).
Since the 1990’s, the Moroccan government has realized the key role played by ICTs in enhancing education and enabling a Digital Society. Article 10 of the National Charter of Education and Training of 1999 introduced the concept of the integration of ICTs into education by supporting the acquisition of computing facilities at schools, along with the promotion of distance education and learning. 240
The first "e-Morocco" (“e-Maroc” in French) strategy was launched in 2001, enabling the government to increase the use of ICTs in all aspects of life. The subsequent liberalization and privatization policy in the telecommunications sector led to reduced telecommunications costs, resulting in a rising number of cyber cafés and more access to computers and the Internet, even in small towns. In 2005, the focus of the new ‘e-Morocco 2010’ strategy included reducing digital costs and positioning the kingdom internationally in the ICT arena. Since then, several programmes and initiatives have been implemented. 241
Following the initial e-Maroc plan, the education axis of the E-Morocco 2010 Strategy, adopted in 2005, aimed to acquire and develop expertise in ICTs. This strategic priority resulted in the launch of the ‘GENIE” Programme (an acronym of “Generalization of Information Technologies and Communication in Education”), which was supported by USAID with a total budget of approximately USD 11 million.
The aim of the GENIE programme was to enhance the availability of computer labs with Internet connectivity in public schools. The project was built around three complementary axes: (1) acquiring ICT equipment, (2) training of teachers and school administrators, and (3) curriculum development. 242 The prime objective of GENIE was to enable primary, secondary and high schools to benefit from multimedia computer facilities and Internet access, with the aim of improving the quality of teaching.243
Along the first axis (equipment), more than 8,600 primary and high schools were scheduled to receive more than 100,000 Internet-enabled computers, plus additional peripheral equipment such as printers and scanners. The teacher training axis included offering basic ICT training to 230,000 educators in the 16 regional computer labs set up for this purpose across Morocco. The curriculum development axis included installing a national laboratory for the development of educational content and setting up a national educational portal. The portal aimed to offer several services such as educational resources, discussion forums, email addresses for all teachers, a virtual library, and educational search engines.244
Initially scheduled to conclude in 2009, the GENIE programme was extended for a further four years under Digital Morocco 2013. An additional 9,260 institutions were scheduled to receive multimedia resources and Internet-enabled computers, while 200,000 teachers will benefit from ICT training, and digital content will be further developed. In addition to GENIE, Digital Morocco 2013 also includes provisions to subsidize computer equipment, laptops and Internet access for teaching staff and engineering students.245
GENIE has been integrated into national strategies, becoming one of the pillars of "Numeric Morocco 2013," an initiative that aims to make ICTs a vector of human development and a source of productivity and added value for the economy and public administration. Ultimately, the kingdom wants to position Morocco as a regional technology hub. 246
In 2012, the implementation of the Plan Numeric Morocco 2013 enabled the connection of 150,000 teachers and 90,000 students to the Internet. Initially endowed with a budget of 5.2 billion dirhams, the programme has four strategic priorities: (1) social transformation through information technology (IT); (2) orientating public services towards users; (3) computerizing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs); and (4) developing the national IT industry. Under the Plan, a project known as Injaz was defined as a way for students to acquire a computer and a USB 3G dongle at a subsidized price 247
ICT in Education in Morocco. Available at: www.infodev.org/en/Document.418.pdf
241 Global Resource and Information Directory: Morocco. Available at: http://www.fosigrid.org/africa/morocco
244 Adapted fromhttp://www.anrt.ma/missions/genie/presentation-du-programme-genie and http://www.fosigrid.org/africa/morocco
245 Adapted fromhttp://www.anrt.ma/missions/genie/presentation-du-programme-genie and http://www.fosigrid.org/africa/morocco and http://www.northafricaunited.com/Numeric-Morocco-2013_a1843.html
In Portugal, the modernization of the educational system has been a priority since 1986, and the introduction of ICTs in education has increasingly been seen as an essential element of that modernization. In 2007, the government defined a comprehensive national ICT plan for education, the Plano Tecnológico de Educação (PTE). This Plan was carefully defined, taking into consideration the EU’s Lisbon Strategy, ICT policy and regulation, and Portugal’s Strategic National Plan.
The e.escola (e.school) Programme was launched the same year (2007) in order to encourage access to the information society and to promote “e-inclusion” through easier access to portable computers and broadband Internet connections. The goals included providing ICT access under favourable financial terms, for all students from the 5th grade of primary school (10-year-old students) through the last year of secondary school.
The e-escolinha programme was also introduced, as another initiative of the e.escola Programme, to enable students enrolled in the first four years of primary school to benefit from the use of computers and broadband Internet access. The e-escolinha programme provided that all children from six to 10 years old – about 500.000 students – could obtain a portable computer for EUR 50, EUR 20, or even for free, depending on the level of social support in their school. 248
In order to ensure the financing of the programme, the Portuguese government utilized resources that had been set aside for the development of the ICT sector. In 2001 and 2002, several companies purchased 3G mobile licences through a spectrum auction that raised EUR 460 million. With the long-term goals of the PTE in mind, Portugal’s government set aside the auction proceeds to fund the nation’s ICT programmes, including the educational technology programmes.
The funds have been used to support many programme elements, including subsidized technology purchases for students and teachers. At the same time, the state developed several partnerships with software and hardware manufacturers to give users access to the latest technology at reasonable prices. As the programme matured however, the Ministry of Education assumed full responsibility for all aspects of e-escolinha, including the financing. The programme is now supported through government funding rather than offset agreements with telecommunication companies. 249
Preparing Portuguese Citizens for the Information Society Era, available at:
In Thailand, the government is working to build synergies between ICT facilities at the nation’s universities and those in its primary and secondary schools. While all of Thailand’s universities were connected to the Internet fairly early on, it has taken longer for its roughly 33,000 primary and secondary schools to achieve a similar result.
The effort in schools began with SchoolNet, which benefited from low Internet access rates set by the Telephone Organisation of Thailand (TOT). The process of connecting schools dates back to 1995, when the Thai Social/Scientific, Academic and Research Network (ThaiSARN) was extended to cover about 50 secondary schools in Bangkok as part of the SchoolNet project.250
A turning point for SchoolNet came in February 1998, when TOT began pricing Internet access at the same rate as a local call. The project became known asSchoolNet@1509, referring to the four-digit dial-up code for nationwide Internet access.251
The Communication Authority of Thailand (CAT) also supported the project by providing international Internet bandwidth. Between 1998 and 2003, the SchoolNet project connected some 4,800 schools to the Internet.
In 2003, the SchoolNet project was turned over to the Ministry of Education, where it was merged into a new educational network dubbed EdNet. In addition to public schools, EdNet includes universities in order to optimize network utilization and other resources.
The Ministry developed a National ICT for Education Master Plan (2004-2006). One goal was to increase telecommunication services in schools. Although most schools had electricity, 70 per cent of primary and 17 per cent of secondary schools had no telephone lines. By the end of the Master Plan period, all schools had a telephone line.
250 Minges, Michael, Tim Kelly, and Vanessa Gray, Bits and Bahts: Thailand Internet Case Study. (Geneva, Switzerland: International Telecommunication Union, 2002).
251 For technical details about the SchoolNet network see Paisal Kiattananan, et. al. “Network Design and Resource Management Scheme in SchoolNet Thailand Project.” In Proceedings of the 1999 Internet Society Conference. http://www.isoc.org/inet99/proceedings/2e/2e_1.htm and http://satjournal.tcom.ohiou.edu/issue12/uppalakom.html
The U.S. approach has been to subsidize discounted service provided by private operators. The E-Rate programme underwrites discounts for telecommunication services provided to schools, libraries and other educational institutions. Operated in conjunction with the country’s universal service fund, E-Rate spent more than USD 16 billion from 1998 to 2008. As a result, 100 per cent of American schools have Internet access, and 97 per cent have broadband connections.
The E-Rate programme, officially known as Universal Service Schools and Libraries Discount Mechanism, was created as a part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The Act revised the universal service support system in the United States. One new provision was the inclusion of affordable telecommunication service to primary and secondary schools. The Act specifically created an additional new (the fourth) Universal Service Fund programme to help schools and libraries connect to the Internet. The programme's policies and rules were designed to promote competition between service providers and to give applicants (that is, the schools and libraries) the most cost-effective means to connect to the Internet. The E-Rate programme is funded with USD 2.25 billion dollars annually from the Universal Service Fund.252 This programme is supported by assessments on telecommunications companies, not the federal budget.
The E-Rate Programme functions by providing discounts to educational institutions for their telecommunications and Internet access service bills. The subsidized amount is reimbursed by the federal Universal Service Fund (USF), to which all operators contribute. Under the supervision of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), a specialized company known as the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) administers the programme.
To be eligible to receive discounts, a school or library must meet certain eligibility criteria. In general, elementary and secondary schools --including many private and religious schools -- are eligible to receive discounts. Public libraries and library systems also can receive E-rate discounts, provided they meet the eligibility requirements set for them.
Eligible schools request the E-Rate discounts for four service categories: telecommunication services, Internet access, internal connections, and basic maintenance of internal connections. The discounts range from 20 per cent to 90 per cent, based on the level of poverty and the location (urban or rural) of the students. Schools applying for the E-Rate discount must:
1. Submit a plan that shows how technology will be used to improve curriculum or library services, as well as how E-Rate funds and other financial resources will be used;
2. Submit a description of services requested (which is put online to notify service providers about the products and services being requested);
3. Select a service provider from the bids submitted;
4. Submit a certification form to request funding.
The E-Rate programme disbursed more than USD 16 billion in funding to schools nationwide between 1998 and 2008. The E-Rate has been instrumental in boosting Internet access and broadband connectivity in U.S. public schools.253 E-rate funding requests for Priority 1 services (telecommunications and Internet access) have risen steadily over the past five years, from USD 1.8 billion in 2008 to USD 2.4 billion in 2012. 254
Seeking to respond to technology trends, the FCC recently has adopted a new E-Rate policy to help bring affordable, super-fast fibre connections to America's schools and libraries. It allows participants to use E-Rate funds to connect to the Internet in the most cost-effective way possible, including via unused fibre lines already in place across the country or through existing state, regional and local networks. With these fibre networks, schools and libraries can provide students and communities with cutting-edge connectivity, while saving millions of dollars.255
The FCC is also launching "School Spots," a programme that allows schools to provide Internet access to the local community after students go home. With affordable fibre links, these School Spots are a major step toward the National Broadband Plan's goal of connecting an anchor institution in every community to affordable 1 gigabit-per-second broadband service. 256
ERate Funding Proces Website. Available at: http://fundsforlearning.com/index.php
253 Universal Service Fund Facts, USAC, available at: http://www.usac.org/about/universal-service/fund-facts/fund-facts.aspx
254 2012 Survey Part 3: Current Technology Use and Plans For The Future, August 1, 2012. Available at: http://www.fundsforlearning.com/blog/2012/08/2012-survey-part-3-current-technology-use-and-plans-future
President Tabaré Vázquez announced the Ceibal Project in December 2006 with the aim of providing each child in primary school with a laptop by 2009. Some USD 21 million was allocated to the project in 2007 -- the equivalent of 2.7 per cent of the entire education budget. The project was implemented in four phases, starting with a pilot project in a school in the town of Villa Cardal, in the department of Florida, using 200 computers donated by OLPC. The pilot was followed by the scaling up of the project to provide laptops to schools in all of Florida Department, then in 2008 to all schools in all departments of the country, except the capital Montevideo. The final phase extended the laptops to Montevideo. In four years, Plan Ceibal delivered 450,000 laptops to all students and teachers in the primary education system, along with free Internet access throughout the country. 257 In 2009, the programme also targeted secondary education, as well. 258
Uruguay Case Study
, http://www.ceibal.edu.uy/Paginas/Inicio.aspx, and
Zambia is a country that, like many developing countries, faces significant challenges in terms of education. There are 8,000 primary schools and only 500 secondary schools in Zambia. The majority of primary schools are located in under-resourced rural areas. There are 2.8 million pupils in primary school and 340,000 in grades 8-9, with 220,000 in grades 10-12. Schooling concludes after grade 12. There are only 71,000 teachers for a total of 3.4 million students, which is a ratio of 100 students for each teacher.
The iSchool Project,, which is an initiative of AfriConnect Development in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, aims to provide Internet connectivity and online education resources (”e-learning”) to Zambian schools on a commercial basis. The goal is to take advantage of the rapid spread of Internet technology in Zambia. Broadband Internet can now bring modern e-learning to an isolated school – no matter its circumstances. Once e-learning material has been created, it can be used by any number of students anywhere. It works with a teacher present, or without; in a well-resourced school or one with very few resources. There is almost no extra cost for each extra child that is taught. In addition, a key objective of working with the Ministry of Education is to develop the same learning materials for all students throughout the country. It will be high-quality, material, mapped to the Zambian national curriculum and tailored to the students’ needs -- no matter where they are or what resources they have available.
Within this context, iSchool is aiming to define both technology and infrastructure, as well as content and training. The project will:
School access to the Internet is considered an important policy for many countries. Benefits range from access to online education information, development of ICT skills and better school administration. In addition, the school Internet link can be leveraged to provide access and training to the wider community.
Despite the recognized worldwide importance of Internet access for educational institutions, many developing countries are finding it extremely challenging to connect their schools. Though funding is typically cited as the main reason, there are a range of other bottlenecks including inexistent or unrealistic school connectivity plans and a lack of coordination between various stakeholders. Prerequisite infrastructure such as electricity is often lacking, particularly in rural schools.
Though school connectivity requires substantial resources, there is evidence that the many potential funding sources available are not being adequately utilized. Funding is potentially available from a variety of sources including universal service funds, government education budgets, multilateral and bilateral donors, the private sector, non-governmental organizations as well as the parents of the students themselves.
The design of well-structured school connectivity plans with realistic timetables can have a big impact on increasing school Internet access throughout the world in a cost-effective manner. Regulatory and other measures can be taken to lower the cost of Internet access to make school connectivity more affordable. This can be achieved in a variety of ways, including through licensing requirements to provide free or reduced-cost Internet access to schools, allocating spectrum at no cost to schools for wireless Internet connectivity, or leveraging access to NRENs or fibre backbones. Low-cost computing devices, mobile phones, applications and content stored on common servers or in the cloud, as appropriate, can be used to reduce the cost of end-user equipment, applications and content.
These plans should be created with input from all stakeholders to achieve success, enhance coordination and ensure that potential donors are aware of them. The plans should also be tied to monitoring and evaluation tools so they can be modified and improved with experience in order to maximize their effectiveness. Though school connectivity cannot be achieved overnight, a plan with medium-, short- and long-term objectives can provide a roadmap to the day when the target will eventually be reached.
It is critical to note that the NSCP is an education sector plan for which connectivity to ICT is an enabler. This informs the proposed approach, the roles and the funding model proposed.
The National School Connectivity Plan (“NSCP” or “the Plan”) needs to consider existing institutional frameworks, as well as existing policies, legislation and regulations that may have an impact on the implementation of the NSCP.
The Plan shall consider best practice approaches, as well as specific characteristics of the relevant administrative, legal and regulatory frameworks, to make proposals. This should lead to a pragmatic approach to connect schools to the Internet, and as far as possible, to broadband networks, by a determined date.
Although tertiary institutions may be considered, the Plan generally addresses connectivity in primary and secondary schools.
The NSCP shall bear in mind the country’s infrastructure challenges, but shall also appreciate the opportunities presented by a liberalized ICT sector, where this is the case. The NSCP shall take a technology-neutral approach.
The financing of school connectivity is a key challenge in many countries. Matching the targets and objectives of a school connectivity plan and aligning them with a realistic budget that is fundable is central to the sustainability of any NSCP. It is, therefore, proposed that school connectivity be financed through a combination of government, agency, private-sector and donor funding. Schools will also need to apply for and provide a level of funding either independently, through the school organization, or through the local school authority.
Targets shall be based on an analysis of the local ICT market, the demand for ICTs in the education sector and other factors, including pricing, policy, and availability of products and services. Targets may include:
o Determining which schools are to have some form of ICTs in education integration, and in which areas those schools will be located;
o Determining the number and types of schools that will have Internet access, computer labs or mobile computer labs.
Assumptions may have been made and actions foreseen which are required to calculate and estimate costs for the different phases. These may include:
1. Availability of fixed, wireless and VSAT networks in urban, rural, un-served and under-served areas;
2. Types of equipment to be allotted to each installation – for example, one fully equipped computer lab per school, with 20 computers per lab and one mobile computer lab (i.e., a rolling table with one laptop, a projector and a printer);
3. Costs of teacher and maintenance staff training
Provide general background on relevant initiatives such as, for example, the Millenium Development Goals or Education for All.
International and regional fora and commitments can also be relevant. These include, for example, the European Union in Europe, CITEL in the Americas. CTU or CARICOM in the Caribbean, ASEAN in Asia, and COMESA, WATRA, ECOWAS, SADC, and CRASA in Africa.
More specific general background on the country will inform technology and cost choices. Relevant background includes economic data, demographics, and geographic information for each country and region.
There is also a need to set up and spell out the administrative, legal, regulatory and policy framework. It is also essential to delineate the economic actors, as well as other stakeholders.
The establishment of a Joint NSCP Committee will ensure that there is:
In order to meet the NSCP targets, some changes to the legal, regulatory and policy framework may be required. These may include:
When deploying technologies to schools, it is also necessary to analyse how best to achieve a balance between equity and effectiveness. Deploying ICTs in different types of pilot schools will generate lessons on what and how technologies best fit into the different educational contexts, and how to increase ICT use at different school levels.
A phased implementation of school connectivity will also ensure that the implementation process is manageable and the development of best practices and lessons learned is gradual. It will also provide opportunities for monitoring and evaluation, so that the policy can be revised and fine-tuned.
Technology selection incorporates a number of issues and choices, including:
There are numerous methods for connecting students, teachers, and schools to the Internet. These comprise solutions ranging from narrowband to broadband and are offered at varying costs. Availability of these technologies depends on what operators can provide, as well as the location. The use of satellite and wireless technologies has enabled some countries to reach marginalized areas or economically disadvantaged groups quicker.
Teachers will need to be acquainted with ICT integration and trained in basic ICT use, including word processing, spreadsheets and the use of the Internet, including social media. The Ministry of Education will generally be responsible for the training of ICT instructors, who will, in turn, train teachers and administrators.
Teachers and heads of departments from pilot schools should be expected to help train colleagues at schools that are connected in a later phase. In addition to training in techniques relating to the integration of ICTs into education, teachers should also be expected to have the necessary knowledge to guide students in surfing the Internet and understanding Internet issues.
Schools should also allow children to share experiences online and give them opportunities to show teachers and parents what they know. Teachers and parents also need to be trained and supported so that they can educate students and children about Internet safety. Government organizations, volunteer organizations and schools can provide training and support.
Resources also need to be allocated for ongoing school connectivity operations, maintenance and upgrades. It is essential that schools have access to trained staff that can troubleshoot problems, perform routine maintenance and identify necessary upgrades, particularly in the more rural and remote areas. Technical staff needs to be trained in network operation and maintenance, management of relationships with ISPs and software vendors, as well as network security and online protection. This activity should be included in the overall school connectivity plan and properly resourced. Options can include receiving support and maintenance from the telecommunications operators, out-sourcing maintenance (which may be problematic in remote areas that are not close to support and maintenance facilities) or training of local staff.
A holistic approach is vital for the viability and sustainability of projects. Provision must be made for the long-term sustainability of the project through financing from a variety of sources. Government and donor funding cannot be the only sources of revenue for nation-wide coverage of schools. Schools should be encouraged to devise funding strategies for long-term sustainability of school connectivity.
In order to estimate the cost of connectivity, especially for use in the planning stages, a model must be developed based on a number of criteria, including geographical location and coverage by existing operators through fixed or wireless solutions.
The model must take into account the location of PBXs with ADSL capacity, the location of mobile base stations and the frequencies that will be used. It should also reflect information on schools’ locations and availability of electricity and fixed or mobile data and telephony services.
The application of the model should allow the estimation of costs for equipment installation and monthly connectivity charges, based on the technologies used and the current coverage of operating companies.
An effective National School Connectivity Plan must take into account the total cost of ownership (“TCO”). Educational objectives, actors and funding must be channelled to address the key steps that complement each other. The TCO includes the cost of deploying the infrastructure platform -- which is more than just the simple cost of acquiring computers and connectivity for schools. It also includes the cost of replacing equipment – both hardware and software as well as peripherals. Additional costs include security, electricity, maintenance of content and applications, ongoing user training and support, equipment maintenance and technical support, and monitoring and evaluation of the project.
Major operating costs associated with National School Connectivity Plans will also include personnel costs and usage costs. These are often the “forgotten costs” when projects are designed, even though they are critical for a project to be sustainable. Usage costs, which may be unpredictable if not properly regulated, form an important part of the TCO calculation.
There are a few potential sources of income: community training, Internet usage (cyber), mobile charging, copying/document services.
Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) allows ongoing learning and feedback throughout the design, planning and implementation stages of a programme. As illustrated in the World Bank Handbook on Monitoring and Development of ICT in Education260, a conceptual framework must be defined to guide the monitoring and evaluation exercise so that relevant conclusions can be drawn and appropriate adjustments made.