Belize - Belize News - - Great Belize Productions - Belize Breaking News
Home » Economy, Education, People & Places » Government Partners with UNICEF and Giga to Provide Internet Access to All Schoolchildren
May 11, 2023

Government Partners with UNICEF and Giga to Provide Internet Access to All Schoolchildren

Schoolchildren across Belize who do not have access to the internet will be connected to the worldwide web shortly.  This will be achieved through a partnership between the Government of Belize and Giga, an initiative launched by UNICEF and the UN’s International Telecommunication Union, to connect every school to the internet. Minister of Education, Francis Fonseca and C.E.O in the Ministry of Public Utilities, Jose Urbina signed the partnership between the two ministries this morning. They were joined by representatives from UNICEF and Giga at a launch event at the San Ignacio Hotel today. News Five’s Marion Ali was on hand for the ceremony and filed the following report.


Marion Ali, Reporting

Representatives of UNICEF and Giga partnered with the ministries of education and public utilities to support Belize’s effort to provide internet access to every Belizean child. Giga, a UNICEF-International Telecommunication Union initiative, supports engagement and governance around school connectivity and provides technical assistance to map schools’ internet access. Giga’s representative, Sophia Farrar explained that connecting every student will place them on the same level as every other child who already enjoys having information at their fingertips.


Sophia Farrar

Sophia Farrar, Giga Representative
“One out of three people globally don’t have access to the internet. That is the equivalent of 2.7 billion people, or another sad number is that nearly half of the world’s schools don’t have access to internet, which is the equivalent of about 500 million students and young people. We can think about the ways that internet becomes a connector with the students, the teachers, and also the community around it, and as Giga, we really hope to work with you to kind of bridge that connection, to connect to the e-governance initiatives already ongoing, to think about how that school connectivity can connect to disaster relief and recovery. There are so many different use cases for this connectivity, and I think that we under-appreciate the value that it brings to Belize.”

UNICEF’s Representative to Belize, Alison Parker explained that the organization is trying to make a difference because there is a clear disparity in the number of children who don’t have access to the internet.


Alison Parker

Alison Parker, UNICEF Representative, Belize

“We could not re emphasize or further emphasize Why it is so important to reach the inequities that have been so glaring as we emerged from the COVID-9 pandemic. It cuts across both developed and developing countries in terms of rural urban, in terms of gender considerations, in terms of those – sorry – those most left behind, those affected by conflict, those from minorities and indigenous communities, those who’ve never been able to access. It’s the most minimal device, or even understand what those mean, and this is a fundamental opportunity for us to bridge that divide.”


UNICEF Belize, Giga, and government have developed a work plan and have done preparatory work for the first phase of mapping. For their respective part, CEO in the Ministry of Public Utilities, Jose Urbina and Minister of Education Francis Fonseca explained how their ministries will work together to provide children with internet access.


Jose Urbina

Jose Urbina, C.E.O., Ministry of Public Service

“There’s a lot of potential, a lot of need, when we look at almost 28 rural communities that need electricity. We need to ask ourselves, how do we achieve a hundred percent? Like us discussing how do we achieve a hundred percent of school connectivity, we also need to look at how do we correlate that with electrification, because they go hand in hand. And how do we highlight the priorities when we look at which schools would be next? How do we relate that to the BEL expansion plan? How do we relate that to the ministry’s perspective in terms of which village will be electrified next through PV solar or mini grids as we refer to it in the ministry.”


Francis Fonseca

Francis Fonseca, Minister of Education

“Building a robust technology infrastructure across the education system is a key strategic imperative of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Technology. The aim is to make innovative use of science and technology to transform teaching and learning. The ministry has invested in training teachers to integrate technology into their instruction. However, many students are unable to benefit from this initiative due to lack of access to appropriate digital learning devices. Access to digital learning devices and of course the internet will increase the quality and equity of Belize’s education system.”

But, if we can gauge how far along we are as a country in doing our part, Farrar said Belize is certainly ahead in the region.


Sophia Farrar
“I feel like Belize is going to absolutely beat that target. You are definitely ahead of, of many, many places that we work with. So we’re so excited to work alongside you and amplify the incredible work that’s already in progress here in Belize.”


Marion Ali for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

Advertise Here

Comments are closed