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26 February, at 08 : 40 AM Print
Going by reports coming out of Spain’s city of Barcelona, Rwanda’s universities are set to benefit from free access to educational content on “low-cost” smartphones – something which, among others, would potentially ease research tasks for students.
The world’s telecom giants have been, this week, meeting in Barcelona at the Mobile World Congress − the telecom industry’s biggest global trade show. And Facebook’s Internet.org organization is set to announce a number of new projects to help increase global Internet connectivity.
This news website understands that through SocialEDU, its first pilot project, the world’s social network giant will provide students in Rwanda with what Facebook terms as “a collaborative online education experience” using mobile phones.
The move comes after Facebook and Nokia – both members of Internet.org – reportedly entered a deal with the Rwandan government along with two domestic telecoms to provide free access to educational content on “low-cost” smartphones.
According to an Internet.org announcement, it is a five-step process.
EdX (a non-profit online initiative offering interactive online classes from some of the world’s best universities such as US-based Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology) will work with Facebook to create an educational app (application) that is integrated with Facebook; Airtel (one of Rwanda’s telecom companies) will provide free education data for students in Rwanda who participate in the programme for a year; Nokia will provide “affordable” smartphones.
In this deal, the Rwandan government is offer financial support for students to purchase devices and also extending its free WiFi programme (a wireless networking technology that uses radio waves to provide wireless high-speed Internet and network connections) to cover the country’s university campuses.
Facebook estimates that some 5 billion people − two-thirds of the world − are without Internet access, and it wants to change that.
“There are huge barriers in developing countries to connecting and joining the knowledge economy. Internet.org brings together a global partnership that will work to overcome these challenges, including making internet access available to those who cannot currently afford it,” Facebook’s CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg is quoted as explaining.
Internet.org ups Facebook’s commitment to connecting every person on the planet to the Web by involving worldwide players within the telecom industry, which have the power to make lower cost Internet a reality.
A report carried out by Deloitte (one of the world’s renowned professional services firms) and released by Internet.org suggests that providing better access to the Internet in the developing world could increase productivity by as much as 25 percent, generating $2.2 trillion in GDP and more than 140 million new jobs. That, the organizations say, could lift 160 million people out of poverty.