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WSIS Forum 2023: Giga-Defining and Financing Meaningful School Connectivity

March 16th, 2023 @ 17:30 CET

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Around half of the world’s schools are offline, and 1.3 billion children have no access to the Internet at home (UNICEF and ITU, 2022). This digital exclusion particularly affects the poorest, girls and those with disabilities, denying them access to learning resources online, the option to learn remotely, and the opportunity to develop digital skills. United by a shared commitment to leave no children behind, UNICEF and ITU joined forces in 2019 to create Giga, a unique global partnership to connect every school in the world to the Internet and every young person to information, opportunity, and choice. To date, Giga has connected 2.1 million students and 5,700 schools to the Internet, mapped 2.1 schools, established 16 partnerships, and mobilized $1.1 billion.

The emphasis on setting standards and targets for universal and meaningful connectivity reflects countries’ experience that the quality of connectivity matters. Meaningful school connectivity means fast, reliable and affordable access to the Internet, allowing for skill development, use of ‘smart’ devices, and safe navigation. The United Nations Office of the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology and ITU have established a set of aspirational targets for 2030 for universal and meaningful digital connectivity. These set a minimum connection speed target of 20 Mbps per school, or 50 kbps per student for schools larger than 400 students. Achieving these targets, however, requires strong commitment and substantial resources, both technical and financial, by all parties involved, including governments, international organizations, the private sector and civil society. In addition, given the rapid pace of innovation in digital learning, these targets must be regularly assessed and updated to reflect the evolving requirements of teachers and students.

Giga and the Governments of Switzerland and Spain will co-host a session at the 2023 WSIS Forum on universal and meaningful school connectivity, with the following specific objectives:

To present Giga, the UN system’s flagship initiative on school connectivity, which has developed a number of open-source data and technology products for meaningful school connectivity.
To highlight challenges and opportunities, including technical, political and financial, to achieve universal and meaningful school connectivity by 2030.
To explore experiences and perspectives on the level of bandwidth required for meaningful school connectivity and how it can be financed.

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March 16th, 2023
17:30 - 18:30 CET
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