Digi provides free internet to schools in Belize
by Charles Gladen
BELIZE CITY, Thursday. July. 14, 2022
ConnectED is a partnership between the Department of Education, Science and Technology with Digi that has given 197 educational institutions across the country – including primary, secondary and tertiary schools – free internet access .
The initiative was launched during the Covid-19 pandemic, when internet access and appropriate equipment were essential to ensure that students could continue to receive instruction in the classroom.
The schools most in need of such assistance were those in rural communities, mainly in the district of Toledo.
The agreement between MOEST and Digi facilitated the provision of Wi-Fi hotspots, the installation of security systems, content filtering, support and maintenance, and round-the-clock monitoring.
“There is a serious crisis in our country in terms of the digital divide, especially in our rural communities where our students do not have access to reliable and adequate internet services. So this is [the] start solving this very serious problem,” Education Minister Francis Fonseca told the media this week, referring to the partnership.
He explained, “We are trying to ensure that by December we have taken care of these two hundred schools. And one of the problems, as I mentioned, we have a lot of schools that talk about being connected, but when you go to the schools, you talk about it, it’s the principal’s office that has internet or the teachers’ lounge or the computer lab that has the Internet, but the classrooms [don’t] have internet, the campus doesn’t have internet, and we want a Belize and an education system where students have internet access wherever they are in school… Of course, as I said, tackling to the digital divide, ensuring that our students, especially in poor communities, in vulnerable communities, at-risk communities, rural communities have equal access to the internet.
The initiative is part of Belize’s national digital agenda which was presented in Plan Belize by the current government.
“It’s part of our digitization plan and it’s important for us to bring technology to the whole country, especially to our schools, so it’s an important step for us,” said the Minister of Logistics and of E-governance, Michel Chebat.
The project costs the government $2.5 million.