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Connect a school, connect a community
Portuguese project provides a global model
photo credit: ITU/V. Martin
Portuguese schoolchildren at WTPF-09

When a school is connected to the Internet, it is often the case that local people can use its facilities too. Through its Connect a School — Connect a Community initiative, ITU is working with a range of partners to identify best practice in closing the digital divide for both schoolchildren and the communities where they live in developing countries.

One of the clearest and most successful examples comes from Portugal. Under its eEscola (or “eSchool”) project, laptop computers with wireless 3G broadband connectivity are being provided to all students and teachers. According to the country’s authorities, more than a million laptops have been distributed: to children in primary and secondary schools, and to adults in educational programmes. They are the low-cost Magalhães (or “Magellan”) model, based on Intel’s “Classmate”.

ITU expressed its admiration of Portugal’s efforts on the occasion of the World Telecommunication Policy Forum that was held in the nation’s capital, Lisbon, in April 2009. The Union plans to use the Portuguese model in promoting efforts to bring connectivity to communities worldwide.

Portugal’s Prime Minister José Sócrates has noted the positive effects of the eEscola programme in his country. “It is having a significant impact on our society, especially on the younger generation, and this will, I believe, have an enduring impact on Portuguese competitiveness. In this spirit, I cannot but welcome ITU’s efforts in promoting the objectives of the World Summit on the Information Society and, in particular, in the development of the Connect a School — Connect a Community initiative,” he said.

“ITU can count on Portugal’s commitment and cooperation to extend the principles and the objectives of eEscola programme on a global scale, particularly in developing countries. I look forward to cooperating with ITU,” said Mr Sócrates.


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