In today’s digital age, access to information through internet connectivity has become an essential requirement rather than a luxury. Recognising the potential economic benefits of connecting schools, UNICEF recently highlighted that doing so could boost GDP by up to 20% in the least connected nations worldwide as reported by Mail and Guardian.
Unfortunately, many schools in South Africa face challenges in providing teachers and learners with the necessary infrastructure and funding for digital connectivity. However, a commendable initiative by Internet Service Provider (ISP) Cool Ideas aims to address this issue.
Over the past eight years, Cool Ideas has expanded its fibre and LTE networks nationwide, prioritising high-speed connectivity to expedite access to digital information. Through their Cool Schools initiative, the ISP has collaborated with schools across eight provinces, ensuring learners benefit from the network’s growth by gaining access to valuable educational resources.
The initiative’s inception dates back to 2015, when Parkhurst Primary School in Johannesburg became the first school to be connected on a trial basis. Since then, Cool Ideas has consistently added new schools every month, resulting in over 300 schools benefiting from fibre access throughout the year. Additionally, the organisation has partnered with renowned fibre providers, including Vumatel, Evotel, Octotel, and Frogfoot Networks, to extend further support.
The primary goal of the Cool Schools Initiative is to bridge the digital divide in South Africa by offering internet connectivity to underprivileged schools and schools situated in Cool Ideas coverage areas. Through this remarkable project, qualifying schools receive a free internet connection with up to 1,000Mbps (1Gbps), empowering learners to access educational resources online and facilitating their overall growth and development.
Randall Abrahams, Principal of Tamboerskloof Primary School, expressed his appreciation for Cool Ideas’ 1Gbps free fibre line, calling it a game-changer for their school community. Belinda Mlambo, an educator at JC Curtis Nkondo Secondary School, echoed the sentiments, emphasising the immense benefits enjoyed by teachers and learners due to the provided internet access.
Duwane Peters, Marketing Manager for Cool Ideas, emphasised the organisation’s commitment to ensuring that every child in South Africa can access the best possible education, highlighting the essential role of technology and digital connectivity. With their current provision of fibre connectivity to over 300 schools, Cool Ideas has no intention of stopping there. They plan to continue expanding their network, adding more schools as they develop their routes.
To qualify for the Cool Schools program, schools must meet specific criteria, such as being a public school in South Africa, having a minimum of 50 learners, and being located within a Cool Ideas coverage area. Schools that meet these criteria can apply for the program by contacting their local Cool Ideas school representative.
Recently recognised as the Best Fibre ISP in South Africa for the third time, Cool Ideas has also earned the highest rankings for customer satisfaction and brand loyalty among South Africa’s ISPs, according to Analytico’s research. This achievement highlights the remarkable strides made by this small organisation in contributing to the educational advancement of South African schools.
The Cool Ideas’ Cool Schools Initiative is a shining example of a community-driven initiative that recognises the importance of digital connectivity in empowering students and fostering a brighter future for South Africa.
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Photo: Facebook / @Cool Ideas Service Provider