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Cisco hails Uruguay for school connectivity program

Bnamericas Published: Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Uruguay has been recognized for its internet connectivity schools in a global study by Cisco Systems.

Cisco underscored Uruguay, Ireland, Portugal, New Zealand, and the US as model countries not only for managing to connect all of their schools to the internet at speeds of over 1Gbps but also for their connectivity for education programs.

"We discovered that these cases all had something in common. All were based on a clear government vision of transforming education through digitalization and connectivity," said Andrés Maz, Cisco's director of advanced technology policy.

"Implementation was fast and effective (taking 3-5 years), there were different sources of financing and the technology was aimed not only at connecting schools but also in impacting teaching processes in the classes," Maz added.

In Uruguay, the government education program Plan Ceibal has connected 2,453 schools and invested US$238mn.

Uruguay is widely recognized as one of the most advanced countries in Latin America in terms of fiber to the home (FTTH) connectivity.

Maz said that many countries in Europe, the more wealthy nations in Asia and the US have connected most of their schools though the speed and quality of connections varies. In Europe, most connections are under 30Mbps.

CONNECTIVITY ISN'T EVERYTHING

According to Cisco, mere connectivity is not as important as the way it is connected.

Relevant factors include speed of the connection, extension of the local area network (LAN) throughout the school, a wide area network that connects to other educational institutes, routers throughout the school, centralized managed services such as firewalls and content filters and broadband in every classroom, and all devices connected (connected whiteboards, monitors, tablets etc.)

Maz recommended countries take a series of factors into account when drawing up a connected school program, including: having a clear vision of why they want connectivity and a methodology for measuring goals and results as well as sufficient and constant financing to maintain the program.

The company also recommended focusing on teacher training and providing relevant content as well as technical staff to ensure upgrades and network maintenance.

According to Cisco, there are 58mn children in Latin America that do not have access to primary education and 63mn that do not attend secondary education.

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