Broadband access can help bridge educational divides, empower students – UN report

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ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Toure (right) co-chairs the Broadband Commission with UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova. Photo: ITU

25 February 2013 – Broadband connectivity has the potential to transform education by giving teachers and students access to learning resources and technologies that will allow them to improve their skills in the context of a globalized economy, according to a United Nations report released today.

The report, Technology, Broadband and Education: Advancing the Education for All Agenda, argues that access to high-speed technologies over fixed and mobile platforms can help students acquire the digital skills required to participate in the global economy and contribute to ensure their employability once they finish their studies.

“The ability of broadband to improve and enhance education, as well as students’ experience of education, is undisputed,” said the Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Hamadoun Touré, adding that online access widens education and employment prospects for students all over the world.

“A student in a developing country can now access the library of a prestigious university anywhere in the world; an unemployed person can retrain and improve their job prospects in other fields; teachers can gain inspiration and advice from the resources and experiences of others. With each of these achievements, the online world brings about another real-world victory for education, dialogue, and better understanding between peoples.”

According to ITU estimates, the digital divide remains deep despite rapid technological advances. At the end of 2012, there were nearly 2.5 billion people using the Internet. However, only a quarter of these people are located in the developing world. There are also severe disparities in the cost of broadband, which in some 17 countries still represents more than the average person’s monthly salary.

The report, released by the Broadband Commission for Digital Development during the World Summit on the Information Society +10 in Paris, emphasizes the importance of broadband access as a way to accelerate the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) pertaining education, which aims to achieve universal primary education for boys and girls by the year 2015.

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source: UN News Centre

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