Students of socioeconomic vulnerability in Brazil will be provided internet access, while many other students will have their existing connections upgraded.
Under the headline of Internet Brazil, the national research and education network RNP will execute a pilot project in partnership with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Communications. The timing is related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The (project) comes to meet an urgent need and give the Federal Government a mechanism that can reduce the adverse effects resulting from social distancing measures,” said Fábio Faria, Communications Minister, at the launch of the initiative.
Over the coming years, the initiative will potentially benefit all 22 million students in the country.
The pilot project provides for the distribution and maintenance of around 700,000 chips with mobile broadband packages available throughout 2022. Overall, the focus of both pilot project and the entire program will be to enable connectivity and access to digital resources in support of blended learning.
The Internet Brazil program builds upon a previous initiative, the Connected Students project, run by the Ministry of Education. Here, free Internet was provided to students in situations of socioeconomic vulnerability at 101 universities and federal institutions. More than 160,000 chips were distributed. The action was intended to provide continuity of studies throughout the period of social distancing. Further, the project contributed to democratisation of access to education, to boosting digital inclusion, and to reducing inequalities in access to technology.
According to national statistics, the percentage of students aged 10 years and over with internet access grew from 86.6 % in 2018 to 88.1 % in 2019. However, these figures do not tell the full story, as many students experience occasional restrictions, such as sharing chips or having payment difficulties. Such disturbances prevent access to educational resources available in digital formats.
Based on the survey, about 4.3 million students remain without connectivity, the majority being students at public schools (95.9 %). Accordingly, the focus of Internet Brazil is serving basic education students in the public school system, mostly in municipal and state institutions.
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