Enabling digital inclusion for schools in rural Colombia

Viasat is bringing connectivity to students in Colombia

Colombian classroom with Viasat enabled wifi

Connectivity is an essential part of modern life, and yet for many children in Colombia, access to the internet is a distant dream. Digital inclusion is essential for a child’s education and development, but in Colombia, many children lack access to the internet and other forms of connectivity due to poverty and geographic isolation.

Colombia is a country made up of numerous mountain ranges, which makes providing connectivity difficult and expensive. Many rural areas are simply inaccessible to providers and remain without any kind of connection to the world beyond their immediate locality. Without connectivity, young people are unable to take part in educational projects or access information about potential jobs or learning opportunities — both critical components for a well-rounded education.

There is also an increasing digital divide between those who have access to modern technology and those who don’t; this affects not only educational opportunities but economic ones as well. Those who have access can take advantage of telecommuting jobs or use online platforms to start businesses — opportunities that those without connection are completely unaware of or unable to partake in.

The result is an entire generation that lacks equal opportunity for advancement, but Viasat is working on providing the same connectivity as their peers around the world.

How Viasat tackles the issue

Viasat antenna dish in Colombia

Viasat partners with MINTIC, a Colombian government entity, to provide free connectivity for education in addition to potentially execute larger projects. Five schools in remote Colombian regions were chosen by MINTIC for a pilot based on educational needs and lack of connectivity. Viasat provides satellite internet and solar power for this pilot.

“The internet has become a vital tool for growth, development and to create new opportunities,” said Kevin Cohen, Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives and Business Development – Global Fixed Broadband. “Viasat provided a complete solution of satellite internet and infrastructure like solar panels to help make these schools competitive learning centers for future generations.”

Students are currently accessing government-specific educational programs and are in the initial stages of exploring how to get the most value out of their new connectivity. The program is helping not only the education sector, but also the local economy.

What’s next

Through providing internet to the schools, Viasat can also determine the needs of the community. If there is a need for internet, Viasat can add to the existing infrastructure for the schools and offer internet services in the surrounding community.

“Viasat’s vision is to bring connectivity where it’s needed most, so anyone, anywhere can unlock their potential,” said Cohen. “Viasat is also considering add-on products such as telemedicine, online education, finance, etc. to make a more well-rounded experience and opportunity for the entire community. We’re off to a great start, but this is only the beginning.”

Learn more ways Viasat is helping bridge the digital divide.