The government of Chile established the Enlaces programme to provide subsidized Internet access to the nation’s schools. It is administered by the Centre for Education and Technology within the Ministry of Education.215
Enlaces began work in primary and secondary schools in urban areas, but it expanded in 2000 to incorporate rural, less-accessible schools. From its inception in 1992, the programme has focused on government primary and secondary schools. Enlaces provides access to the Internet to approximately 75 per cent of students in schools that are enrolled in the project, 67 per cent of which have a broadband connection.216
In 2002, a new programme called Red Enlaces Abierta a la Comunidad was implemented to provide communities with access to the Internet through 2,000 educational facilities and computer labs.217
Enlaces has used a variety of financing sources and mechanisms to achieve its connectivity goals for Chile. In 1998, for example, the Ministry of Education reached an agreement for the Chilean telecommunication operator Compania de Telecomunicaciones de Chile (CTC) to provide free, unlimited Internet service to all schools in the country for a period of 10 years. Since 2004, as part of its efforts to promote broadband connectivity, Enlaces has reached agreements with multiple operators provide preferential fees to educational facilities. Enlaces also established a fund through which schools could apply for a subsidy equal to 50-100 per cent of the broadband connection fee.218
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.
Chile’s Technologies for a Quality Education Plan, announced in 2007, foresaw an additional USD 200 million being spent on school infrastructure, including connectivity and computers, through 2010.
In 2011, the Minister of Transport and Telecommunications, Pedro Pablo Errazuriz, and the Minister of Education, Joaquin Lavin, announced a commitment to have all educational establishments connected to broadband networks by March 2012, including schools in rural or more remote areas (which would be connected via 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 in 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 remaining schools without connectivity, thus reaching a universe of more than 11,600 establishments.
Centro de Educacion y Tecnologia (Enlaces), Ministerio de Educacion, available at: http://www.enlaces.cl/index.php?t=44&i=2&cc=1273&tm=2
216 The Enlaces programme only applies to subsidized municipal schools. See http://www.chile-usa.org/education.html
217 Enlaces, Nuestra Historia, available at: http://www.enlaces.cl/index.php?t=44&i=2&cc=183&tm=2
218 Enlaces: 15 Años Integrando Tecnologia a la Educacion Chilena, pg. 64, available at: http://www.enlaces.cl/tp_enlaces/portales/tpee371c23bs52/uploadImg/File/libro_enlaces.pdf