NATIONS with low broadband connectivity have the potential to realise an increase in gross domestic product (GDP) by up to 20% by connecting schools to the Internet.
And, a well-educated workforce is more likely to be innovative and foster ground-breaking ideas, leading to economic development and job creation, an Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) report found.
The “Connecting Learners: Narrowing the Educational Divide” report revealed that for every 10% increase in school connectivity in a country, GDP per capita could increase by 1.1%.
In the context of the West African country of Niger, the report sponsored by Ericsson, found that improvements in school connectivity to Finnish levels could increase GDP per capita by almost 20% by 2025.
The report focuses on four key actions:
> Collaboration: A holistic, public/private partnership strategy is needed to coordinate efforts with stakeholders to overcome barriers to school connectivity.
> Accessibility and affordability: Building infrastructure to enable access to the internet is a starting point. Quality of connection and cost are important factors as well.
> Embedding Internet and digital tools into education: Once access to school connectivity is achieved, it must be embedded into the curriculum.
Teachers must be trained to integrate technology into everyday learning.
> Protecting children online: School connectivity provides opportunities for children. Additional steps must be taken to ensure healthy and protected online learning environments. Internet usage must be properly managed to ensure safe and secure use.
The report also recommends that public, private and NGO sector leaders around the world make a dramatic impact towards bridging the digital divide by joining forces to make internet connectivity a global reality for school children of all ages.
These individual-level benefits for children have a snowball effect leading to higher incomes, better health, and improved overall wellbeing.
The report, said Ericsson vice president (sustainability and corporate responsibility) Heather Johnson, has reinforced the company’s belief that the ambitious goal of Giga – a school connectivity initiative founded by Unicef and the International Telecommunication Union - to connect all schools and their surrounding communities by 2030, is achievable.
“Partnership between business leaders, public sector leaders and NGOs can take effective action to address this issue and significantly impact lives.
“We encourage stakeholders to read the report and more importantly join the Giga initiative to help realise this important goal,” she said in a press release on June 15.
For details on Giga, visit gigaconnect.org.