Swedish telecom equipment maker Ericsson has partnered with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to map school connectivity in 35 countries by the end of 2023. This will enable UNICEF to move towards providing every child with access to digital learning opportunities.
Under the partnership, Ericsson will initially begin by mapping the connectivity landscape for schools and their surrounding communities to connect every school to the internet. Particularly, it will assist with the collection, validation, analysis, monitoring and visual representation of real-time school connectivity data.
The data generated through the mapping will enable governments and the private sector to design and deploy digital solutions that facilitates learning for children and young people.
This move is part of the larger Giga initiative, launched last year by UNICEF in partnership with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
Giga is a global initiative to connect every school to the Internet and every young person to information, opportunity and choice. Over 800,000 schools in 30 countries have already been mapped.
ITU provides technology policy advocacy and regulatory expertise to the vital mission of connecting every school in the world.
According to the ITU, 360 million young people currently do not have access to the internet, which results in exclusion, fewer resources to learn, and limited opportunities. Improved connectivity will increase access to information, opportunity, and choice.
Ericsson is the first private sector partner to make a multi-million dollar commitment to the initiative and does so as a Global UNICEF Partner for School Connectivity Mapping.
In addition to funding, Ericsson will commit resources for data engineering and data science capacity to accelerate school connectivity mapping.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the deepening digital divide with limited or non-existent opportunities for remote learning as children’s education worldwide went online. School connectivity is seen as the concrete first step in helping bridge the digital divide globally.
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