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WTDC-10 special report
Commitments to boost connectivity and training
 
 
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Connect a School, Connect a Community

ICT ministers and senior officials from several countries shared experiences and best practice in a bid to forge common approaches during a round table session dedicated to ITU’s flagship initiative: Connect a School, Connect a Community.

Dr Touré told participants that Connect a School, Connect a Community is part of ITU’s overall Build on Broadband campaign. “Our objective is not only to expand access to broadband connectivity, but more importantly we need to launch innovative applications in areas such as health, education and commerce to help stimulate progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals.”

Delegates reviewed legal, policy and regulatory measures to stimulate school connectivity, such as using funding for public works, adding requirements to connect schools in third-generation (3G) mobile licences, or using universal service funds. Participants also explored how connected schools could be used as platforms to provide ICT services to other groups in the community, including women, persons with disabilities, and indigenous people. As part of the Connect a School, Connect a Community initiative, ITU has identified and compiled best practice on policies, regulation, low-cost computing devices and practical experiences in connecting schools, including establishing school-based community ICT centres (www.connectaschool.org).

Following an open “call for partners” by Mr Al Basheer, France’s Ambassador to India, Jérôme Bonnafont, announced funding to the tune of EUR 500 000 for Connect a School, Connect a Community projects offering broadband connectivity and equipment to ten schools in three sub-Saharan countries in Africa.

To support the French-funded project, the Intel Corporation said it will provide 90 Intel Classmate laptops and up to 10 000 free licences to reproduce copies of its Intel® PC Basics courseware for schools and their communities, including small businesses, participating in the Connect a School, Connect a Community projects in the three sub-Saharan countries, as well as providing its expertise in incorporating ICT in the classroom.

An agreement to that effect was signed by John Davies, General Manager, Intel World Ahead Programme. The Microsoft Corporation will provide software licences for Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office at nominal cost and make available additional support for connected schools. In addition, Microsoft has offered its new Windows Multipoint Server 2010 solution to reduce the cost of providing technology for the project.

Paulo Campos, Vice-Minister of Public Works and Communications, Portugal, announced that the Government of Portugal would provide laptops and support related to capacity building and project implementation in 10 countries, to one school per country. Portugal will also provide software and educational content, a smart board in each classroom to allow for interactive e-learning, and wireless modems along with a school server.

Rajiv Mehrotra, Chairman and CEO of Vihaan Networks Limited (VNL) India announced that VNL’s “World GSM” solar powered rural telecommunication infrastructure will be extended to village schools and communities in South Asia. This contribution is aimed at enabling mobile telephony and wireless broadband connectivity for Internet access in remote and inaccessible regions of the country where power supply is erratic or unavailable.

Support for the ITU Academy and its centres of excellence

In support of the ITU Academy, a web-based platform that offers a single access point to all ITU training interventions, Türk Telekomünikasyon A.S. of the Türk Telecom Group made a commitment to become an ITU centre of excellence and partner in the delivery of ICT training opportunities across Africa, West Asia, and the Commonwealth of Independent States. The announcement was made by the CEO of Türk Telecom Group, Paul Doany.

Jose Toscano, Director General of the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (ITSO), announced a new partnership with ITU to deliver satellite communications training through the ITU Academy and its centres of excellence. ITSO will provide its expertise in the development and delivery of professional satellite training through two courses on satellite communications: one for policy-makers and regulators and the other for other stakeholders, including communication operators.

Assistance for regional initiatives

Australia’s Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) announced a contribution of CHF 591 000 to support the Asia- Pacific regional initiatives endorsed by the Hyderabad Conference. DBCDE will collaborate with ITU to support Member States within the Asia-Pacific region with relevant telecommunications assistance, such as organizing training and workshops, and providing country-specific actions in response to specific ICT-related needs. The partnership agreement was signed by Philippa Spence, First Assistant Secretary, Department of Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy.

 

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