With students having laptops and tablets to help them with their lessons, a fast Internet connection is vital to make most of the available technologies and electronic learning aids. Non-profit group EducationSuperHighway aims to bring high-speed broadband to the K-12 public schools in the United States and in its mission, it has found champions in technology moguls Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates. The founder of Facebook and Microsoft have donated $9 million to help the cause through Startup:Education and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, respectively.
"Game changing technologies are transforming teaching and learning, but over 40 million students are being left behind without the Internet access and Wi-Fi they need to take full advantage of digital learning. If we want our children to be competitive in the global knowledge economy, we must upgrade the Internet infrastructure in America's public schools," said EducationSuperHighway CEO Evan Marwell in a statement.
EducationSuperHighway found out that about 72 percent of schools in the United States do not have the needed Internet speed ideal for digital learning. It conducted an Internet speed test in the past 12 months that involved more than 600,000 students across 26 states.
Zuckerberg has been devoting time and money to improve the country's education system through his foundation that he established in 2010. Startup:Education's first beneficiary are city schools in Newark, New Jersey that received $100 million funding for the improvement of its public education.
"When schools and teachers have access to reliable Internet connections, students can discover new skills and ideas beyond the classroom.The future of our economy and society depend largely on the next generation using and building new online tools and services, and I'm glad to support EducationSuperHighway's work," said the Facebook founder.
In line with the Federal Communications Commission's goal to increase the speed of broadband and WiFi to gigabit standards for 99 percent of public schools in the U.S. by injecting $2.4 billion to its E-rate program, EducationSuperHighway is calling on policymakers to take a stand and help improve Internet connection for students.
"We're thrilled that the business and education communities share our vision for a high-speed future for our K-12 students. These strategic investments will accelerate our ability to raise awareness, reform policy and assist school districts with upgrades," EducationSuperHighway board chairman Jonathan Kaplan said.
The donations of Gates and Zuckerberg may seem meager for a mission that may need billions of dollars but the funding will be useful in introducing technical expertise to catalyze improvements in Internet speed in U.S. public schools.