ANNEX 1: SCHOOL CONNECTIVITY CHECKLIST

  • In order to be more effective, school connectivity plans should be consistent with policies to promote overall ICT connectivity within the country. Within a national framework, school connectivity plans are best coordinated with policies, plans, strategies, and programmes for universal service, as well as broadband and digital and Information Society strategies and agendas.
  • A specific "ICT for Education" plan is also desirable, as it ensures that proper focus and detail is devoted to determining how to best use school connectivity in programmes aimed at integrating ICT into education. It also helps ensure that implementation targets are feasible and fundable. A detailed ICT for Education Strategy is also essential to facilitate funding from development partners.
  • Key parameters to guide and implement connectivity goals and targets should be determined early in the plan’s development process.
  • There needs to be close coordination between the ministry responsible for education, the ministry responsible for ICTs, and the ICT regulator, to ensure that universal service funds and obligations are formulated within a plan for school connectivity that concretely describes the roles of all parties.
  • The private sector and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can play key roles in advancing school connectivity, and they should be invited to participate in the development of school connectivity plans.
  • School connectivity plans can also provide an important way to address the connectivity needs of special populations, such as women and girls, persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples, rural or under-served populations and others with special needs.
  • An inventory of school infrastructure and existing connections can assist in determining the potential for connectivity as well as the need for different connectivity models, based on the circumstances of the school.
  • Plans should identify the appropriate Internet connectivity technology or technology mix to provide an appropriate balance between available bandwidth and lower up-front and recurring costs.
  • Countries reviewing their UASF legislation may wish to make it more flexible, in order to allow the fund to cover costs for school connectivity and end user equipment where they do not already do so.
  • Subsidized Internet access can be a tool to meet universal access goals, with Internet-connected schools serving as the enabling connection points. Such funds could be established cooperatively between school connectivity programmes and network operators or groups funding Research and Education Networks.
  • Government policies regarding spectrum allocation and use should take into consideration their impact on school connectivity
    • Allocation - Consider allocation of some portion of radio spectrum for educational broadband to ensure that schools can benefit from wireless communications
    • Reduced spectrum fees – Consider reducing or waiving spectrum fees for academic institutions and reducing or waiving spectrum fees of operators in exchange for enforceable commitments to provide free Internet access to schools
    • Unlicensed spectrum – Consider allowing use of unlicensed spectrum for broadband connectivity, reducing network deployment costs compared with licensed wireless broadband options
  • Modification of licence obligations – Telecommunication network operator licences can include specific conditions or requirements for the education sector, and regulatory authorities can consider modification of licence conditions to include education-focused requirements
  • Identification of potential funding sources – which may include governments, operators, multilateral or bilateral assistance, and private sector sources – is crucial to determining the potential reach and impact of school connectivity plans.
  • Monitoring and evaluation plans should include methods to evaluate the technical results of Internet connectivity, measure progress towards school connectivity and analyze the impact of broadband access on learning.
  • Monitoring and evaluation should be employed for both new deployments as well as upgrades from narrowband to broadband connectivity. Metrics for measuring deployment often include tracking the number of primary and secondary schools with Internet access (broken down by narrowband and broadband access and public and private schools) and comparing that figure to targets set within a plan.
  • Preferential tariff agreements – School connectivity initiatives can include negotiating agreements with operators to obtain preferential fees and prices for educational facilities.
  • Policy makers should consider the potential for extending connectivity in a locality once an Internet point at a school has been established. Internet-connected schools can be viewed as regional “hubs” or “anchor points,” from which broadband connectivity – perhaps at a lower throughput than that delivered to the school – can be shared with the surrounding community.
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