3.4.2.3 Multilateral, regional and bilateral development agencies

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:

  • The World Bank has funded education projects throughout the developing world, including those with ICT components. In Jordan, the Education Reform for Knowledge Economy project supports the creation of computer labs in schools, including the provision of Internet access.146 The Bank’s largest ICT for education project is in Russia, which has “substantially increased technology infrastructure both at the central/federal level of education system and at the regional/local level, and by this provided greater physical access to technology for users from distantly located/rural areas.” 147 The World Bank also instigated the World Links project, which helped with school connectivity in some developing countries and was later spun-off as an independent, not-for-profit organization.148
  • The Asian Development Bank helped to fund the Sri Lanka Secondary Education Modernization Project, which ran from 2000 to 2007.149 The project included a component for creating over 1,000 "computer learning centres" in secondary schools. The centres include Internet access. 150
  • The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has a long history of supporting school connectivity in Latin America and the Caribbean. It has provided assistance for various school connectivity projects in countries such as Argentina, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Trinidad and Tobago.151 Along with the Caribbean Development Bank, the ADB provided funding for the Barbados Education Sector Enhancement Programme (EduTech), which led to Internet access for all primary and secondary schools.152 In addition, the IDB assisted with funding of several school computer programmes that have a connectivity component. In Haiti, the One Laptop per Child Model Project includes funding for connectivity. Likewise, a pilot project for Paraguay includes a connectivity component featuring two-Mbps Internet access at 10 schools and underwriting of associated cabling, routing and maintenance costs. More recently, the IDB has supported loans for the educational expansion and consolidation of Plan Ceibal in Uruguay. IDB also is starting the programme Educatrachos in Honduras. With grant support, IDB has developed important pilots in Costa Rica (development of "XXI century skills"), Colombia (teaching strategies in the context of “one- “one-to-one” programmes) and in Brazil and Chile (personalized education programmes within and outside schools, using technology and connectivity). Finally, the Bank supported the creation of the Latin American Network of Educational Portals (RELPE), which is an important initiative for the collaborative production of digital educational resources.
  • The European Union supports the construction of broadband infrastructure and Internet take-up through both rural development and structural funds, and has clarified the application of state aid rules on use of public funds for broadband deployment. In the 2007-2013 programming period, EUR 1.02 billion was added to the Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), and of this money, EUR 360 million was programmed on broadband projects. Within this context, in January 2012, the Romanian Ministry of Communications and the Ministry of Education signed a financing contract for European structural funds that will provide broadband Internet connections to more than 2,446 schools in rural areas and small towns. This will require an investment of approximately EUR 30 million. The main objectives are to provide broadband Internet connections to the schools, giving Internet access to approximately 650,000 students and about 48,000 teachers in disadvantaged areas. There will also be technical support for all schools involved in the project.153

Examples of bi-lateral funding include:

  • The Japanese government has provided assistance to the ASEAN SchoolNet project, which supports pilot school connectivity projects in Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, the Philippines and Vietnam.154
  • The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) has provided ongoing financial assistance to Namibia’s SchoolNet project, which provides Internet access to schools. SIDA has contributed close to NAD 23 million (USD 2.9 million) since mid-2001.155
  • The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has provided assistance to school connectivity projects around the world. For example, it helped fund the Macedonia Connects programme, which led to the provision of wireless broadband access to all of that country’s primary and secondary schools.156 It also helped with financing of a high school connectivity project in Yemen, with a focus on girls’ access to ICTs.157
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