Ericsson and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have entered a global partnership to bring internet connectivity in schools and providing every child with access to digital learning opportunities.
The partnership launched last week will help map school connectivity in 35 countries by the end of 2023.
It is part of the Giga initiative that was launched last year and led by UNICEF and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), aiming to connect every school to the internet.
Ericsson, a global communications service provider is the first private sector partner to make a multi-million dollar commitment to the initiative and does so as a Global UNICEF Partner for School Connectivity Mapping.
According to the ITU, 360 million young people currently do not have access to the internet.
This results in exclusion, fewer resources to learn, and limited opportunities for the most vulnerable children and youth to fulfill their potential.
With Covid-19 deepening the digital divide for children out of school, the partners believe that improved connectivity will increase access to information, opportunity, and choice, enabling generations of school children to take part in shaping their own futures.
Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, the UNICEF Deputy Executive Director, Partnerships said that 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,” Gornitzka said.
To make this happen, the ITU will bring in its expertise while Ericsson will besides its funding, join Giga initiative by building the mapping tools necessary to make connecting every school a reality.
“ITU will bring historical knowledge of technology policies and regulatory expertise to the mission of connecting all schools in the world,” said Doreen Bogdan-Martin, the Director of Telecommunications development at ITU.
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.
Heather Johnson, the Ericsson Vice President of Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility said they are uniquely positioned to be a key partner in executing these areas of need using years of experience, tech and global reach.
“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,” Johnson said.
This resonates with the recently published UNICEF’s COVID-19 Agenda for Action which called for global action to keep children learning, thereby requiring the prioritization of internet connectivity in rural and remote areas.
This UNICEF-Ericsson partnership also contributes to the Generation Unlimited Global Breakthrough on Digital Connectivity that aims to give young people digital skills so they can fully and meaningfully participate in the digital economy.