New Delhi: Swedish telecommunication giant Ericsson and the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Wednesday announced a global partnership to help map school internet connectivity in 35 countries by the end of 2023.

This joint effort is part of the Giga initiative launched last year and led by UNICEF and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), which aims to connect every school to the internet.

Ericsson is the first private sector partner to make a multimillion-dollar commitment to the initiative and does so as a global UNICEF partner for school connectivity mapping.

According to the ITU, 360 million young people currently do not have access to the internet. Improved connectivity will increase access to information, opportunity, and choice, enabling generations of school children to take part in shaping their own futures.

“Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, school closures, coupled with limited or non-existent opportunities for remote learning, have upended children’s education worldwide,” Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, Deputy Executive Director, Partnerships, UNICEF, said in a statement.

“Our partnership with Ericsson will bring us closer to giving every child and young person access to digital learning opportunities,” Gornitzka added.

In addition to funding, the company will commit resources for data engineering and data science capacity to accelerate school connectivity mapping. Specifically, Ericsson will assist with the collection, validation, analysis, monitoring and visual representation of real-time school connectivity data.

The data generated through the mapping will enable governments and the private sector to design and deploy digital solutions that enable learning for children and young people. The telecommunication giant will also engage its extensive customer base to further advance the goals of the Giga initiative.

“Working together with partners like UNICEF and the ITU amplifies the potential impact of school connectivity and is a concrete first step in helping bridge the digital divide globally,” said Heather Johnson, Vice President of Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility, Ericsson.

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Indo-Asian News Service or IANS is a private Indian news agency. The IANS was founded by Indian American publisher Gopal Raju as the India Abroad News Service. It was later renamed the Indo-Asian News Service

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