EducationSuperHighway has announced it is launching a comprehensive national effort to upgrade broadband access in America’s schools, funded by Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s Startup:Education organization, the Gates Foundation, and several other groups. The nonprofits have pledged a multi-year investment to bring digital learning access to all of the nation’s K–12 students.
“Game changing technologies are transforming teaching and learning, but over 40 million students are being left behind without the Internet access and Wi-Fi they need to take full advantage of digital learning,” says Evan Marwell, CEO of EducationSuperHighway. “If we want our children to be competitive in the global knowledge economy, we must upgrade the Internet infrastructure in America’s public schools.”
Over the last 12 months, 600,000 students, teachers, and administrators have test their school’s Internet access as part of EducationSuperHighway’s National SchoolSpeedTest, the organization notes. The results to date show that 72 percent of America’s public schools lack the broadband they need for digital learning.
As the Federal Communications Commission plans reforms of E-rate—the program that provides discounted Internet access and telecommunications services to U.S. schools and libraries—EducationSuperhighway is hoping to offer better solutions to modernize and strengthen it, according to the organization’s leaders and its new nonprofit partners in this initiative. Above all, they say, the most urgent focus needs to be on expanding broadband capacity in schools.
“When schools and teachers have access to reliable Internet connections, students can discover new skills and ideas beyond the classroom,” says Zuckerberg. “The future of our economy and society depend largely on the next generation using and building new online tools and services, and I’m glad to support EducationSuperHighway’s work.”