3.2 Need for coordination between plans
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.72