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CASTRIES, St Lucia – The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) partnered with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to launch ProjectConnect, the first pillar of a wider project which seeks to connect school’s worldwide to the internet.
ProjectConnect aims to map schools and provide real-time data on the quality of their internet connectivity.
The recent three-day workshop brought together 21 Information and Communications Technology Managers from OECS Ministries of Education, Statisticians, and Geographic Information System (GIS) professionals from across the Eastern Caribbean.
Participants benefited from a training session focused on collecting, editing and disseminating spatial and internet connectivity data on schools through the use of open-source tools.
The data will be critical in developing an evidenced-based strategy to provide all schools with fast and reliable internet access, as Head of OECS Education Development Management Unit, Sisera Simon, explained:
“Schools are sometimes faced with unreliable, and in some instances, unavailability of internet access, and this is an excellent initiative to fill that gap. ProjectConnect promotes access to information and will strengthen efforts to enhance technology-driven instruction and administration at the school level in the OECS region.”
Representatives from UNICEF Eastern Caribbean in Barbados, UNICEF Innovation in New York and the International Telecommunications Union in Geneva, who also attended the launch of ProjectConnect, were enthusiastic about the initiative.
“This is the first of its kind regional school connectivity mapping workshop that we’ve organised with the aim of building local capacity on how to collect and maintain data around internet connectivity in schools,” said data scientist at UNICEF Innovation, Naroa Zurutuza.
“The data will allow us to identify gaps and will be the foundation for follow-up work with OECS governments and internet providers, and build a common bid for connectivity that will ensure that all schools in the OECS region have access to the internet.”
In closing, the representatives from the OECS Education Development Management Unit announced the intention to convene a major conference in early 2020 with senior government officials and technical officers from OECS governments; and development partners, which will aim to develop a road map for connecting all public primary and secondary schools in the Eastern Caribbean. (CMC)