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Ericsson, UNICEF in alliance to map school connectivity

By , ITWeb
Africa , South Africa , 28 Aug 2020

Ericsson and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have announced a global partnership to help map school connectivity in 35 countries – including South Africa, by the end of 2023.

The tech firm and UN organisation claim that mapping the internet connectivity landscape for schools and their surrounding communities is a critical first step towards providing every child with access to digital learning opportunities.

This joint effort is part of the Giga initiative. Launched last year and led by UNICEF and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Giga aims to connect every school to the internet.

According to the ITU, 360 million young people currently do not have access to the internet.

“The deepening digital divide is one of the many inequalities that the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored,” said Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, Deputy Executive Director, Partnerships, UNICEF. “School closures, coupled with limited or non-existent opportunities for remote learning, have upended children’s education worldwide. Our partnership with Ericsson will bring us closer to giving every child and young person access to digital learning opportunities.”

According to a statement released to the media, in addition to funding, Ericsson will commit resources for data engineering and data science capacity to accelerate school connectivity mapping.

“Specifically, Ericsson will assist with the collection, validation, analysis, monitoring and visual representation of real-time school connectivity data. The data generated through the mapping will enable governments and the private sector to design and deploy digital solutions that enable learning for children and young people. Ericsson will also engage its extensive customer base to further advance the goals of the Giga initiative,” reads an excerpt from the statement.

Heather Johnson, Vice President of Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility, Ericsson, said: “Ericsson is uniquely positioned to be a key partner in helping address this important issue due to our technology expertise, global scale, decades of experience in public/private partnerships, and proven results connecting students and educators. Working together with partners, like UNICEF and the ITU, amplifies the potential impact of school connectivity and is a concrete first step in helping bridge the digital divide globally.”

Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Director, ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau, added: “ITU brings a history of technology policy advocacy and regulatory expertise to the vital mission of connecting every school in the world. We are thrilled that Ericsson will join Giga and help build the mapping tools necessary to make connecting every school a reality.”

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