3.6 Funding

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”). 

Funding Sources

While connectivity costs can be substantial, there 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 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.

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