Broadband to Bring ‘education to all’, Says UN Broadband Commission


Mobile phones, tablets and e-readers with broadband connectivity could bring quality, ubiquitous multi-disciplinary educational opportunities to people everywhere according to the UN Broadband Commission for Digital Development.

A report by the Commission’s Working Group on Education, led by UNESCO, indicated that, worldwide, over 60 million primary-school age children do not currently attend school; almost half that number never will. The situation worsens as children get older, with over 70 million not enrolled in secondary school. And while classroom computers can help, lack of resources remains critical.

If an average of eight children share each classroom computer in OECD nations, in Africa teachers can struggle to share each computer among 150 or more pupils. But with increasingly sophisticated mobile devices now packing more computing power than the famed ‘supercomputers’ of the late 1990s, the Commission believes broadband-connected personal wireless devices could be the solution.

“For the first time in history, mobile broadband gives us the chance to truly bring education to all, regardless of a person’s geographical location, linguistic and cultural frameworks, or ready access to infrastructure like schools and transport. Education will drive entrepreneurship, especially among the young – which is why we must strive harder to get affordable broadband networks in place which can deliver educational opportunities to children and adults,” said Houlin Zhao, secretary general, ITU.

“Every day, everywhere, women and men are inventing new ways to use broadband, mobile telephones and computers to be empowered, more autonomous and free,” said Irina Bokova, director general, UNESCO.

Speaking at the opening of the Commission session earlier today, President Paul Kagame stressed that broadband should be regarded as a basic utility, like water and electricity.

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