|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.