[Read more session reports from WSIS Forum 2017]
The session, organised by Project Connect, USA explored the issues of mapping and data collection to enable Internet connectivity at schools.
Ms Sara Jacobs, CEO of Project Connect, USA, talked about Project Connect, an initiative whose overarching aim is to harness the power of technology to improve the education of every student on the planet.
Jacobs mentioned that Project Connect was working with governments such as Botswana, Brazil, Liberia, and Senegal, leading tech firms like Google, and IGOs such as UNICEF to create an accurate map of every school in the world. She stated that the primary objective of Project Connect’s mapping was to monitor the Internet connectivity of every school in real-time, to capture and make this data available for other organisations, and last but not least, to build a robust set of partnerships to move the ball forward.
She reiterated that data collection required for mapping every school in the world could only be achieved through fortified partnerships with relevant stakeholders (government, NGOs, and tech firms). She added that Project Connect was designing hardware and software tools to serve as an enabling infrastructure for the broader goal of extending Internet connectivity to schools, which would ultimately help to close the digital divide, and greatly impact on sustainable development goals (SDGs) 4 and 9.
Jacobs emphasised that an equally important objective of Project Connect was providing broader quality education through the project’s platform. She mentioned that in some developing countries, national governments did not even know the locations of all of their schools. Thus Project Connect tools would hopefully help governments learn what resources are already available in their schools, and serve as useful infrastructure for the implementation of resources that are lacking.
Ms Jacobs pointed out that Project Connect was already carrying out pilot projects in South America in partnership with the governments of Brazil, and Colombia. In Africa, Project Connect is in partnership with a number of states, namely Mozambique, Botswana, Ghana, Liberia, South Africa, and Senegal. In her concluding remarks, she stressed that Project Connect was open to progressive and inclusive partnerships with other interested governments from around the world.
by Bonface Witaba