eSchool Programme (eSchool (e.escola))

Joinup Administrator
Published on: 27/08/2008
Document

The e.escola Programme was launched in June 2007 aiming at making laptops with internet broadband connectivity available to students, adult trainees and teachers (please check http://www.eescola.pt/).

The e.escola Programme is primarily financed by 3G Mobile Telecomm Operators (Optimus, TMN, Vodafone) under the terms of their licensing contracts, as well as through beneficiaries’ contributions to the laptops, according to their family’s income.

Therefore, to take into account the diversity of socio-economic status groups, different pricing schemes are available according to the beneficiaries’ economic status, and being particularly attractive for disabled students – the base offer involves a maximum initial outlay of 150€ with a 5€ discount on the internet market monthly tariff.

More favorable conditions are available for disabled persons and for low socio-economic status groups, the latter having their laptops for free and a monthly cost of 5€ for the internet broadband access.

In September 2008 the Programme was extended to include primary school students from 1st till 4th grade. In this initiative students pay a maximum of 50€ for the laptop and broadband internet is not obliged. More favorable conditions are available for low socio-economic status groups, being the laptop for free.

The e.escola Programme has enabled students, trainees and teachers, the opportunity to have a laptop and broadband internet access, especially mobile, according to the following initiatives:

Ø  e.oportunidades: includes all adult citizens participating in specific training programmes design to increase their skills;

Ø  e.professor:  includes all ‘K-12’ teachers;

Ø  e.escolinha: includes students from 1st till 4th grade;

Ø  e.escola: includes students from 5th till 12th grade;

Ø  e.juventude: includes youth and student associations.

With the e.escola Programme more than 1.3 M people have requested their laptops and broadband internet access, that´s 13% of the Portuguese population benefiting directly from this Programme. If we consider that laptops and internet are usually shared among family members and friends, a higher percentage of Portuguese population is being indirectly benefiting from it.

Policy Context

According to Information Society statistics 2004-2007 (see “The Information Society in Portugal 2007”; Portuguese National Statistical Institute and UMIC/Knowledge Society Agency (Dec/2007): http://www.osic.umic.pt/governo/relatorio_ficha.aspx?id=69), Portugal lags behind other EU Members in the use of Information and Communication technologies (ICT): - in 2004, broadband penetration at home was 12%, progressing to 24% in 2006; the EU15 average was 32% in 2006. - In 2006, there was a computer in 45% of Portuguese homes, the EU15 average being 64%. Given that broadband penetration in homes having a computer was the same in Portugal and the EU (53%), the obvious conclusion is that the lower overall broadband penetration stems from fewer computers in Portuguese homes. Additionally, from the analysis presented in the already referenced publication “The Information Society in Portugal 2007”, we conclude that although 40% of the overall population (16-74 years old) uses the internet regularly – which is significantly lower than the EU25 average, 59% -- the breakdown by education level is revealing: ­- individuals with low education level: 24% (19% in 2006) - individuals with medium education level: 81% (80% in 2006) - individuals with university-level education: 90% (87% in 2006) This means that among the more educated segments of the population, Portugal ranks a respectable 5th in EU25. What pulls the global numbers down is really the average low schooling level of the overall population and the associated digital illiteracy. Thus, eSchool aims at tackling these issues by allowing ICT access to a greater number of students, teachers and adults (undergoing training courses), which will benefit learning productivity as well as having a medium to long-term impact on the economy and in fighting social inequalities – access to ICT is seen as essential to providing equal opportunities.

Description of target users and groups

The e.escola Programme is structured around five sub-Programmes with different targets:

Ø  e.oportunidades: includes all adult citizens participating in specific training programmes design to increase their skills;

Ø  e.professor:  includes all ‘K-12’ teachers;

Ø  e.escolinha: includes students from 1st till 4th grade;

Ø  e.escola: includes students from 5th till 12th grade;

Ø  e.juventude: includes youth and student associations.

Description of the way to implement the initiative

Overall coordination os entrusted to the "Managing Entity for the Information Society Fund" (in Portuguese: Entidade Gestora do Fundo para a Sociedade da Informação) The Programme has a decentralised implementation approach, implemented by the private partners and schools.

Main results, benefits and impacts

In the first 2 years after the launch of the Programme, more than 1 million individuals registered and more than 1 million laptops were delivered.

Return on investment

Return on investment: Not applicable / Not available

Lessons learnt

The e.Escola Program proved that people are eager to increase their own levels of education and IT skills, in order to participate in a knowledge-based society. Additionally, this program also showed how a public-private partnership can be successfully established to achieve higher levels of digital literacy in Portugal. To sum up we can say that the e.Escola Program is the tool to change Portugal’s digital literacy landscape, in a short period of time.

Scope: National