In May 2008, the Sichuan Province in china suffered a devastating earthquake; among the companies to quickly respond with aid was Cisco, a worldwide leader in Internet networking. Just two months later, in July 2008, Cisco and the Government of China signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that established a partnership between the two institutions to bring 21st century healthcare and education systems to the region. As this three-year partnership comes to an end, reports and data highlighting the successes of the Connecting Sichuan program are surfacing and the effects of this program are being felt throughout the province.
The education section of the MoU aimed to bridge the urban-rural digital divide in China. Cisco's solutions focus on four key areas and applications of technology to achieve this goal: connected classrooms, connected schools, connected communities, and the Cisco Networking Academy. To connect classrooms and schools, Cisco partnered with over 45 organizations, including ECCOM Network System Co. Ltd. to provide laptops to schools along with wireless Internet and networking capabilities. Once teachers and schools had been actively connected, Cisco helped to create an education metropolitan area network and data center to connect the communities of the province by allowing teachers to share resources, exchange best practices, and trade tips on ways to use and integrate technology into the classroom. The Cisco Networking Academy, which is active in 165 countries, instructs students in networking skills and ICT capabilities; through the MoU, Cisco has expanded this program to 50 universities in Sichuan.
Amongst other programs initiated through the MoU, Cisco has also focused on expanding educational opportunities for children with disabilities. In Sichuan, Cisco helped fund, financially and technologically, the DuJiangYan Youai School, which creates a highly accessible and unique learning environment for disabled students. This partnership between Cisco and the Chinese Government has seen much success, including the percentage of students scoring well enough to join a regional high school jumping from 3% to 31%. As the benefits of the partnership begin to affect more than one generation of school children, the successes will continue to grow and benefit the Sichuan province as a whole.
(Sources: Cisco and ECCOM)