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Special Initiative: Connect a School, Connect a Community  


Connect a School, Connect a Community


ITU is launching a new public-private partnership effort to promote broadband school connectivity to serve both students and the communities in which they live. Connected schools have the potential to serve as community ICT centres to provide access to services for persons living in rural, marginal urban and isolated areas, with a particular focus on disadvantaged and vulnerable groups such as women and girls, indigenous people, persons with disabilities and youth and children.

Through Connect a School, Connect a Community, ITU will work with a range of partners to identify and compile best practices on polices, regulation, applications, services and practical experiences to be shared with interested countries through the development of an online Toolkit and related capacity-building activities.


Secretary-General Urges Support for ‘Connect a School, Connect a Community’
Initiative, in Remarks to Geneva Youth Forum

Following are the remarks delivered today by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) World Telecom Youth Forum in Geneva:
What a wonderful occasion for me to meet all of you, the leaders of our future generation, who are connecting the world with an open mind. I am delighted to join you for this ITU Youth Forum. I stand before you as the eighth Secretary-General of the United Nations. But, I bet you that I am the first Secretary-General who uses Twitter! I am sure that I will not be the last one. Whoever comes after me will be the generation of using all this blogging and Twitter and tweeting.
Now, every day, more of us are blogging and video blogging and tweeting our way through cyberspace. Information and communication technologies are keeping us informed, aware and connected.
But you know there is far more power and potential to ICTs. That is what this conference is about. That is why you are here. That is why I am here together with you. Just to talk and breathe at the same frequency with the young generations.
I understand that the Youth Forum Fellows are winners of an essay competition. You have shared your ideas on how ICT can help us protect children, promote better health, respond to disasters, fight diseases, and build a better world. I know that many speakers have already shared promising practices to spread the power of ICTs more widely.
I would like to tell you about one more. ITU has developed a flagship initiative called: “Connect a School, Connect a Community”. Thank you very much for your commitment. The United Nations is leading this initiative, this campaign to connect the schools, and connect the world and connect the community, and I commend highly the leadership of President Kagame of Rwanda for initiating the “Connect Africa” programme. The goal is to help countries connect all schools to broadband Internet services by the year 2015 ‑‑ a target set at the World Summit on the Information Society. I am pleased to help launch the initiative on a global basis.
We know what a difference it can make. Connected schools can become connected community ICT centres. They can provide a vital link to marginalized and vulnerable groups. They can become an information lifeline for women, indigenous people, persons with disabilities and those living in rural, remote and underserved areas. Turning this goal into reality will take teamwork. We must strengthen our own networks. That is why the ITU will work closely with the United Nations agencies, including United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), to support countries in connecting schools and reaching out to the underserved.
The success of this initiative also depends on political will. Political leaders, they should put their policy priorities in connecting the world, connecting communities and connecting schools. I urge world leaders to support this effort and take the needed steps to meet the agreed targets of connecting all schools by 2015. I invite all United Nations agencies, world leaders, national and local governments, the private sector and non-governmental organizations to do their part to foster economic and social development through the use of ICTs.
I also look forward to your continuing engagement as young leaders. You have much to teach all of us. Sometimes I was told that we can learn, the older groups, older generations can learn from their children. Thank you once again for sharing your creative ideas. Thank you for working to bring the wonders of modern technology to all. And thank you for connecting our world to a better world. Thank you very much.

While ICTs provide unprecedented opportunities to accelerate social and economic development, communities that still lack ICT access and know-how are being further marginalized. Providing household or individual connectivity in rural and underserved areas as well as to disadvantaged and vulnerable groups is often too expensive to implement. Smart policies and innovative public-private partnerships promoting community access through schools to provide access to these target groups represent an attractive, affordable and scalable alternative.

Through Connect a School, Connect a Community, ITU and partners will:

  1. Identify and compile best practices that can be used by policy makers and regulators to connect schools to broadband Internet networks and services in an online Toolkit;
  2. Raise global political awareness among education and communication policy makers and regulators in the development of policies and strategies to connect schools as community ICT centres;
  3. Assist ITU Member States in developing national school ICT connectivity plans and implementing projects; and,
  4. Provide capacity building through regional training events on using connected schools as community centres for vulnerable and disadvantaged groups.

Promoting school connectivity to enable schools to serve as community broadband ICT centres involves a series of critical issues which must be addressed holistically. These include understanding and implementing: policy and regulation; cost analysis; technologies for broadband network access, installation of network equipment; access to end-user devices such as laptops; teacher training; basic ICT training and ICT-enabled career training for members of the local community; providing a safe online and physical environment for children, youth and women; providing assistive technologies and an accessible environment for persons with disabilities; developing and accessing content for education; understanding resources such as digital libraries; etc.

While some players have developed best practices related to one or more of these inter-related issues, for example, teacher training and cost studies for connecting schools, there is no comprehensive, “one stop shop” bringing together all best practices systematically and addressing all of the inter-related layers of the school connectivity ecosystem holistically. Moreover, some earlier school connectivity initiatives were designed to promote dial-up or low-speed Internet access rather than broadband Internet access and many countries have yet to develop any school connectivity programmes at all. For all of these reasons, it is timely to develop a comprehensive online Toolkit identifying best practices related to all layers of the school connectivity ecosystem that will serve to inform education and ICT government leaders as well as international/regional organizations, development agencies, NGOs and the private sector seeking to connect schools as community centres.

ITU is reaching out to partners already active in this field. The aim is to build upon existing efforts and join forces to assist interested countries.


Connect a School, Connect a Community Toolkit of Best Practices and Policy Advice for Connecting Schools:


Partner Announcements:



Regional Workshop/Training on "Connect a School, Connect a Community", 14-16 November 2011, Dominican Republic  

Global Symposium for Regulators, Dakar, Senegal:Workshops on Connect a School and National School Connectivity Plans

ITU's Connect a School, Connect a Community initiative events during 2010 World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC-10) in Hyderabad, India



Nicaragua’s National School Connectivity Plan Offering far-away school children access to the digital world






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Updated : 2011-11-22