ITU and UNICEF coordinate new initiative to connect the world’s schools
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and UNICEF are coordinating GIGA, a new initiative to connect every school to the Internet.
GIGA will be supported through partnerships between country governments, technology partners, and United Nations bodies. The initiative comprises four pillars:
- Map: map connectivity of every school and use it to show where connectivity demand is, and use new technologies like AI to create a real-time map of school locations and their connectivity level.
- Finance: finance a Common Bid that aggregates connectivity demand in schools (pooled across multiple countries) and creates a cost forecasting model to make connectivity more affordable.
- Connect: connect every school to the Internet and create a monitoring system to oversee the level and quality of connectivity delivered by service providers (ISPs).
- Empower: Empower young people with skills by investing in, and scaling, open source solutions that–with connectivity– will be available to children, teachers, and administrators.
Guidance on the initiative’s development will be provided by the Broadband Commission Working Group on the Common Bid for School Connectivity (co-chaired by UNICEF, UNESCO and ITU), which will act as the initiative’s Advisory Group. The group met for the first time during the Annual Meeting of the Broadband Commission held from 21-22 September 2019 in New York.
In remarks given on the occasion of the Annual Meeting, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said, “Through GIGA, we aim to connect every school to the internet — creating an entry point to opportunity and choice for every young person who is currently disconnected.”