126.96.36.199 Government funding
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