Broadband in schools gets boost from tech gurus

Gates, Zuckerburg give $9 million to nonprofit working to improve school broadband connectivity

72 percent of America’s public schools lack the broadband they need for digital learning, EducationSuperHighway says.

The effort to get broadband access in every school is getting a boost from the philanthropy of two technology gurus: Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.

Zuckerberg’s Startup: Education and Gates’ foundation have contributed a combined $9 million to the nonprofit EducationSuperHighway. The San Francisco-based organization is working to improve connectivity in schools.

“When schools and teachers have access to reliable internet connections, students can discover new skills and ideas beyond the classroom,” said Zuckerberg in a statement. “The future of our economy and society depend largely on the next generation using and building new online tools and services, and I’m glad to support EducationSuperHighway’s work.”

Nearly every school has internet access, but for many that doesn’t include classrooms or the connections are super slow. That makes it difficult to video conference scientists with students or to have digital learning programs on tablets such as iPads.

President Barack Obama’s goal is to have 99 percent of students connected to superfast internet within five years. The Federal Communications Commission is weighing changes to the eRate program to increase broadband connectivity in schools.

(Next page: How the donations will support broadband in schools)

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