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    February 6, 2014

    US tech companies pledge $750 million to Obama Education Campaign

    In the fast-moving digital age that we live in, it is of the utmost importance that educational institutions keep up with the pace to ensure that children across the globe receive the best possible education in this ever changing world.

    However, exposing kids to the latest technological advances and improving their level of education costs (a lot) of money. This is why the US is garnering the support of various, giant tech companies to offer their kids the very best.

    US president Barack Obama and tech companies across the United States, are promoting a new initiative to equip schools with new technology and fast, accessible internet.

    Last week, at the US State of the Union address, Obama said that various tech companies have pledged more than $750 million in tech, support and services.

    The initiative ties in with Obama‘s ConnectEd project, that was launched in June of last year. This education technology campaign focuses on bringing fast broadband internet access to all schools, as well as offering students the opportunity to work with the latest gadgets that tech has to offer.

    The goal with this campaign, Obama said, is to bring high-speed internet access to 99% of US schools within the next 5 years. 

    Currently, less than 30% of schools in the United States have access to broadband internet – that is still a higher number than our schools in SA…

    Some of America‘s top tech companies have all signed up to the ConnectEd campaign – amassing to a mammoth $750 million and up of tech and services.

    Apple has pledged to contribute MacBooks, iPads and other products to schools and Microsoft has said that they would offer their Windows operating system at a highly reduced price to schools as well as giving out free copies of Office to educational institutions.

    Furthermore, AT&T and Sprint will provide internet access, while Autodesk and O‘Reilly Media will give out software to schools.

    Verizon, one of America‘s largest broadband and telecommunications companies, is contributing cash and tech support to the project.

    Along with all of these contributions from leading tech companies, Obama has also said that the Federal Communications Commission will pay a $2 billion downpayment on the ConnectEd goal.

    With these contributions from the government and the private sector, Obama‘s government plan on providing 20 million students and 15 000 schools with high-speed broadband internet within 2 years.

    Speaking about the ConnectEd project on Tuesday, Obama said: “œIn a country where we expect free Wi-Fi with our coffee, we should definitely demand it in our schools“

    Well – consider that statement in a country where we don‘t expect free Wi-Fi with our coffee, and more than half of our nation doesn‘t even have access to internet – never mind free Wi-Fi.

    While the States‘ plan for integrating high-speed internet into schools is noble, it should make us as South Africans wonder what the plan is for internet in our schools.

    The digitalization of the world means that new technology and fast internet is paramount in educational institutions. However, will South Africa ever really come to the party?

    A few weeks ago, we reported on the ANC‘s plan for Wi-Fi and internet access, especially in schools.

    According to the ANC‘s plans, they promise to connect 90% of communities with “˜super fast‘ internet within 6 years and also connect all schools, public health services and other government facilities with broadband internet access.

    While this plan/idea is all good and well, we do not have the support of mega companies like Apple and Microsoft.

    Still, it is good to know that the US also considers internet and tech in schools as a really important issue. Perhaps their efforts will inspire our own government to work hard at making this work.

    Source: Mashable

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