3.3.6 Maintenance and Support
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.