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Across the world, education is going digital as new technologies — including cloud computing, big data, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) — develop apace. Indeed, countries around the world are prioritizing educational informatization, which can play a critical role in making them more competitive in the global marketplace, and will therefore likely impact national development throughout the course of the twenty-first century. With all of this in mind, most countries and regions have already formulated development strategies and policies, implementing digital education projects.
Thinking on a global scale, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) also believes that Information and Communications Technology (ICT) can help create more inclusive education systems through more equal access to resources, including quality teaching environments, teachers, and efficient management. Clearly, ICT is already instrumental in improving the quality of education around the world and its influence is only set to grow.
A landlocked nation covering 406,800 square kilometers, Paraguay has a population of over seven million. The country's main economic drivers are agriculture and animal husbandry, and it has, relatively speaking, a fairly low Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita with significant levels of income inequality. To address these issues and improve prospects for its young population, the Paraguayan government has actively implemented a national education development plan and several literacy campaigns since 1990. These measures have improved educational infrastructure overall, but stark differences persist between and even within regions. Far too frequently, education resources are polarized and can't be shared. Making matters worse, even primary and secondary schools that do have campus networks often can't implement innovative learning models, such as online and interactive learning, because the Internet penetration rate is so low, bandwidth is often insufficient, and Operations and Maintenance (O&M) capabilities are limited. And with COVID-19 radically increasing the demand for online education, live classroom broadcasts, and distance education, the country urgently needed to build much better school networks.
In this context, the Fund for Excellence in Education and Research (FEEI) — a public body founded in 2012 and committed to raising the quality of education — launched a national Internet access project for over 5000 primary and secondary schools nationwide. The project aims to improve Paraguay's digital teaching capabilities by ensuring all primary and secondary schools are connected to the Internet, building an online teaching management platform, and sharing digital resources more evenly.
Technology is the key to fully connected, smart education. As ICT develops and distance education becomes more mainstream, high quality digital campus networks are essential: they must feature high bandwidth, easy capacity expansion, and extensive Wi-Fi coverage. Such high performing and highly reliable mobile campus networks not only improve the quality and efficiency of learning, they also provide a robust foundation for innovating teaching methods.
For its digitalization project, Paraguay's Ministry of Education chose the Huawei School Connectivity Solution to deploy broadband access and Wi-Fi 6 networks in over 3000 primary and secondary schools. This flexible solution is suitable for a wide variety of schools and needs, facilitating the sharing of educational resources, narrowing the gap between urban and rural education, and improving the digital infrastructure of schools across the country.
The solution is cabinet-based, making it easy to deploy and manage. This slashes construction time, while also allowing the Ministry of Education to deploy a teaching management platform through its data center, which can synchronize and cache content, evenly distributing resources to each school. O&M is also easier and less labor-intensive after installation. Indeed, the solution provides cloud-based, centralized management, including a variety of O&M tools that require little specialized knowledge from staff.
To date, Huawei has already deployed its School Connectivity Solution in several countries, including China, Paraguay, and Spain, building advanced campus networks for primary and secondary schools. This directly means that more students have gained access to high quality education resources, as education systems create more online learning spaces. As schools continue to upgrade their digital infrastructure, it seems inevitable that more and more countries and international organizations will look to ICT for educational innovation. Clearly, the road ahead appears promising, as education develops side-by-side with the Internet, in turn fostering more cross-cultural collaboration, learning, and innovation.