Monday 6 July, 2020

OECS partners with UNICEF to increase internet connectivity in schools

The Organization of Eastern Caribbean States has partnered with UNICEF to launch Project Connect, a programme which aims to improve internet connectivity in all schools across the OECS.

The project which was launched in Antigua and Barbuda, is the first pillar of a multi-pronged initiative, which seeks to connect every school in the world to internet and every young person to information, opportunity and choice.

Representatives from all OECS member states benefitted from three days of intense training which focussed on collecting, editing and disseminating spatial and internet connectivity data on schools, through the use of open-source tools.

Head of the OECS Education Development Management Unit, Sisera Simon, told workshop participants that data is critical in developing evidence-based strategy to provide schools with fast and reliable internet access.

She said “Schools are sometimes faced with unreliable, and in some instances, unavailability of internet access, and this is an excellent initiative to fill that gap. ProjectConnect promotes access to information and will strengthen efforts to enhance technology-driven instruction and administration at the school level in the OECS region.”

Representatives from UNICEF Eastern Caribbean, which is based in Barbados, UNICEF Innovation in New York and the International Telecommunications Union in Geneva, also attended the launch event.

Data Scientist with the UNICEF department of innovation, Naroa Zurutuza, said “this is the first of its kind regional school connectivity mapping workshop that we’ve organised with the aim of building local capacity on how to collect and maintain data around internet connectivity in schools. The data will allow us to identify gaps and will be the foundation for follow-up work with OECS governments and internet providers, and build a common bid for connectivity that will ensure that all schools in the OECS region have access to the internet.”

The OECS Education Development Management Unit also plans to develop a roadmap for connecting all schools in the Eastern Caribbean.

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