Educational Connectivity in Complex Areas – A Call to Action to Solve Connectivity Gaps in Latin America

Report cover Featured Photo: U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) / Flickr / CC0

This post is also available in: Spanish

The countries of Latin America face a challenge of strategic importance: to extend significant connectivity for educational purposes throughout the length and breadth of the territory. Areas of low population density, distant from urban centers or isolated due to geography, have deficient coverage and internet usage rates. The forced virtuality during the pandemic highlighted the significant gaps many homes and schools faced and, consequently, the relevance of having significant connectivity—with appropriate and regular speed, sufficient data, and access to affordable devices—for educational purposes.

Ensuring meaningful connectivity for educational purposes requires finding creative and flexible solutions and promoting response packages that extend quality service quickly and economically. The technology already exists, so achieving this objective requires guaranteeing financing and appropriate regulatory and institutional conditions so that the private sector, communities, and users develop the necessary investments, complementing the investments assumed by the state.

This call to action results from a joint initiative by leaders from the public and private sectors and multiple civil society actors who have responded to the Inter-American Dialogue’s call for a Working Group on Educational Connectivity in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank.

Four lines of action are proposed that all countries must systematically follow to promote the expansion of significant connectivity for educational purposes:

  1. Private investment must be significant in expanding educational connectivity in complex areas. With this objective, it is essential to create consistent regulatory conditions and incentives to facilitate the investment process and sustainable business models.
  2. Public investment is an essential component of any strategy to extend internet coverage for educational purposes to rural populations. The challenge, however, is not only to mobilize the necessary resources but also to ensure that their allocation contributes to boosting private investment and maximizing the provision of significant connectivity.
  3. In the current state of technological development, technological solutions to connect rural areas must include short, medium, and long term options.
  4. The state must develop long-term national strategies in which the objective of guaranteeing significant connectivity for educational uses in rural areas (in schools and homes) is duly incorporated into the planning and/or public policy instruments of the States so that the actions of various state agents are effectively coordinated.

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