Connecting every school to the internet

Wednesday, 03 November, 2021

Connecting every school to the internet

One million schools around the world have been mapped as part of a partnership with Ericsson and UNICEF.

The two organisations are supporting the Giga Initiative’s school connectivity mapping effort, aiming to have every school in the world connected to the internet by 2030.

Mapping schools is a key pillar of Giga, as it helps provide an understanding of the scale of investment, actions and partnerships needed to bridge the digital divide and provide all schoolchildren around the world with access to digital learning opportunities.

Ericsson’s support for the initiative is in line with the company’s vision to create a world in which limitless connectivity improves lives (including school and learning opportunities), redefines business and pioneers a sustainable future.

Over the past year, Ericsson has provided funding and applied data science to help map internet coverage in schools across seven countries. Along with contributions from multiple partners, this has helped Giga accelerate the mapping work and pass the one-million-school milestone. Under the partnership, Ericsson has committed to help map connectivity in schools across 35 countries by the end of 2023, supporting Giga’s ambition of mapping every school in the world.

Giga works on the premise that connecting schools to the internet is one of the most impactful ways of improving life chances. Through school connectivity children have access to a wider pool of information and a range of learning styles, and thus receive a higher standard of education.

The improvement in learning and the understanding of technology which results from an internet-enabled education is vital to improving digital literacy and closing the digital divide. A workforce that has been educated to this higher standard is more likely to be innovative and foster groundbreaking ideas, leading to economic development and job creation.

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) report ‘Connecting Learners: Narrowing the Educational Divide’, sponsored by Ericsson in support of UNICEF, found that nations with low broadband connectivity have the potential to realise up to 20% GDP growth by connecting schools to the internet, if access is affordable and accompanied by investment in skills, content and devices.

While progress has been achieved in the first year of the partnership, collective action is needed in order to meet this global challenge. Ericsson is calling on internet service providers and political stakeholders to join Giga and donate their time and resources to accelerate the bridging of the digital divide.

“According to the ITU, 369 million young people don’t have access to the internet and 260 million children aged 5–16 receive no schooling,” said Heather Johnson, Vice President, Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility, Ericsson.

“This results in exclusion and fewer resources to learn, and limits future potential for many young people. Mapping schools is a crucial first step in connecting every school to the internet and every student to opportunity and choice.

“This milestone of over one million schools mapped is a testament to the power of public–private partnerships. It’s the first step to achieving universal school connectivity. But there is more to be done and the industry must come together to play its part in closing the digital divide.”

Image credit: © Niels Mayer

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