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Portugal supports ITU’s Connect a School, Connect a Community Initiative
 
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Photo credit: ITU/V. Martin

ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun I. Touré and Portugal’s Vice-Minister for Public Works, Transport and Communications, Paulo Campos, signed an agreement by which Portugal, through its eSchool International programme, will provide comprehensive technological solutions for schools in a number of interested countries as part of ITU’s Connect a School, Connect a Community initiative. The agreement was concluded on 29 September 2010 in Portugal’s capital, Lisbon.

This announcement follows a commitment made by Portugal during the ITU World Telecommunication Policy Forum (WTPF) in Lisbon in April 2009. Some twenty countries will benefit from this first phase, with the initiative supporting the launch of one connected school project per country. Each project will test innovative approaches using ICT in the classroom, measure the impact, showcase the benefits and share lessons learned. The assistance to participating countries will include:

  • New laptops (up to a maximum of 50) for a group of students and teachers in one school per country

  • Laptops equipped with software and educational content

  • A smart board in each classroom, connected to the laptops to facilitate interactive e-learning

  • Wireless modems along with a school server

  • Broadband internet connectivity provided by the local partner.

A multi-partner, international group of experts will support project implementation, including the development of a national school connectivity plan. “This is more than a technical project,” said António Mendonça, Portugal’s Minister for Public Works, Transport and Communications. “It is about cultural and social transformation, and our aim is to put ICT at the service of education so that people throughout the world can have access to it.”

Portugal’s eSchool International is an initiative that acts as a major engine for promoting broadband Internet access as well as the e-inclusion of students, teachers and citizens in general. Portugal aims to help participating countries experience the benefits of integrating ICTs in schools, making information and knowledge available for learning activities. The Portuguese Government has assigned the overall management of the e-School International programme to Fundação para as Comunicações Móveis (Foundation for Mobile Communications).

Dr Touré congratulated the Government of Portugal for its leadership and willingness to share its experience with other countries. Highlighting the importance of connecting schools, Dr Touré said, “we are on the edge of an exciting new frontier. With the help of broadband-supported applications in schools, we now have the chance to bring information and knowledge to children all around the world. This gives me great optimism for the future.” He added, “Portugal’s eSchool International programme complements and reinforces ITU’s global strategy for e-learning.”

Connect a School, Connect a Community is a public-private partnership launched by ITU to promote broadband Internet connectivity for schools in developing countries around the world. Connected schools can provide ICT access and education to children and youth, as well as their communities, serving as community ICT centres for disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, including women and girls, indigenous peoples and persons with disabilities. Together with partners, these centres will leverage ICT to improve the economic and social development of their communities by providing ICT-based training on basic life skills (language literacy, numeracy and basic ICT literacy), along with training that develops business and ICT-specialized skills.

The Connect a School, Connect a Community online platform (www.connectaschool.org) provides a range of resources and promotes understanding and awareness among government decision-makers, donors and partners on the need for coordinated policies, regulations and practices that promote school connectivity and community benefits. This includes assisting interested governments in developing their own national school connectivity plans.

 

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