OECS to join global initiative aiming to connect every school to the Internet

News > The Caribbean

By STEM Caribbean | Posted on August 22, 2020

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Following a recently signed agreement, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) will collaborate with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on a UNICEF-ITU global initiative known as Giga.   

This initiative was established in 2019 to close the digital divide and ensure every child has the necessary digital tools to learn. According to an article announcing the collaboration between the OECS, ITU, and UNICEF, about 3.6 billion people worldwide have no access to the Internet.   

Access to the Internet is becoming increasingly critical in today’s world, especially for gaining knowledge or receiving information and opportunities. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed this in more ways than one in the Caribbean region and the rest of the world.   

“The OECS Commission is pleased to partner with UNICEF and ITU to deliver this timely digital transformation programme. The COVID-19 pandemic has made Giga even more relevant as we seek to bridge the digital divide and empower teachers, students and families to use technology to enhance the delivery of education and continuity of teaching and learning,” remarks Dr. Didacus Jules, the OECS Commission’s Director General, in the announcement.  

Giga is aiming to facilitate internet connection for every school and serves as a platform to develop the required framework for every citizen and an entire country to be connected to the Internet. The announcement notes that the first step in achieving this goal in the region is mapping every school in the region and providing real-time monitoring data on the quality of internet connectivity.   

Dr. Aloys Kamuragiye, a UNICEF Eastern Caribbean representative, says that so far, eight countries in the OECS completed the mapping, and a Giga Regional Centre team will be established soon.   

Through the Giga initiative, the ITU, UNICEF, and OECS will work to close the digital divide in the Eastern Caribbean and increase internet connectivity.   

“The ITU is excited that Giga is now a principal framework of the Member States of the OECS in achieving their Regional Education Strategy. An educated workforce contributes to the socioeconomic development of a country,” says Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau.   

She further says in the announcement that “Through Giga, we are delighted to partner with the OECS Secretariat, UNICEF and other key partners in industry to expand school connectivity in the Eastern Caribbean and, close the digital divide impacting rural and underserved areas. This improved connectivity will ensure that young people will be well equipped with the digital skills that they need to shape their futures in this Internet age.”  

With an increase in access to the Internet, more opportunities and resources will be available for citizens in the region through the wealth of information that could be obtained from the Internet. 

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