Why we need to connect every classroom
Technology

Why we need to connect every classroom

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Create an internet for everyone

Imagine trying to do homework without being able to access the information necessary to do it.

If a student in, say, the United States were asked to write a paper about the layers of the Earth’s atmosphere, they would likely readily be able to access a wealth of information at their fingertips using the internet. They could go to Wikipedia for the basics, find in-depth articles using Google Scholar, collaborate with other students via Facebook Messenger, or watch demo videos on YouTube. And just think about the huge amount of resources available online for their teachers!

But for millions of students and teachers — including 75% of all people in Africa — readily available internet access is not a reality. In most of Sub-Saharan Africa, fewer than half of schools in each country have internet access, according to recent data from the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Inclusive Internet Index (commissioned by Facebook). For example, in Senegal, only 5% of schools have internet access, and, in Ethiopia, that number is only 2%.

Students at Nsaba Diaspora Community Senior High School (NDCSHS) in the village of Obodan, in the Eastern Region of Ghana. (Photo credit: Morgana Wingard/ONE)

Internet access could be a game changer for education in the world’s poorest countries. Here are our top three reasons for why we need to connect every classroom:

1. Improving literacy: In many sub-Saharan African countries, more internet access is often tied to higher literacy rates. For example, in Mali, where 10.7% of schools have internet access, the adult literacy rate is only 33%. Conversely, in Seychelles, where 75.2% of schools have internet access, they boast a 95.3% adult literacy rate.

2. Closing the internet gender gap: Right now, women in poor countries are almost a third less likely to be connected than men, and the gap is growing. Connecting classrooms can help close that gap, because as the Inclusive Internet Index indicates, for some girls, school is the only place they’re able to get online. Check out the chart below, which shows the correlation between the gender gap and connected schools:

(Data from The Economist and Facebook Inclusive Internet Index)

3. Increasing educational attainment: The internet can open up a world of knowledge and opportunity, from ebooks and lesson plans to connecting with colleges and job opportunities. As a result, the Inclusive Internet Index suggests that where more schools are connected, students tend to stay in school longer. For example, in Angola, where only 31.1% of schools have internet access, people complete, on average, 4.7 years of school. Compare that to Algeria, where 53% of schools have internet access and students finish, on average, 7.6 years of school.

Internet access could unleash the potential of millions of students. Take action now to connect every classroom and achieve a connected world.

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Create an internet for everyone

I believe internet access is essential for achieving humanity’s potential.The internet is critical to sharing new ideas, fighting injustice, and helping create new jobs – with it people can achieve extraordinary things.But, over half the people on this planet don’t have access, especially women and girls.The internet belongs to everyone.It should be accessible by everyone. I call on leaders and innovators from all countries, industries and communities to make universal internet access a reality.

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