11/02/2008 | O Globo - André Miranda

The Internet at school’s reach

Embratel Educação Project interconnects 48 thousand students to the world over Communication network.

It is this simple word – craved by everyone – which Embratel Educação Project of Embratel Institute is about. Even more, the program developed in 2006 fights for the right to communication, by enabling 48 thousand students and eight thousand teachers from 50 schools in Brazil to access and learn how to use Internet resources. By the way, many of these schools are located in remote areas where the existence of a personal computer could never be envisaged, let alone of a network interconnected to the rest of the world.

The initiative started to be developed in 2004, when Embratel began the implementation of fiber optics cables in the Amazon Forest area, connecting capital cities Porto Velho and Manaus over the 92 km of BR-319 highway. Two years later, after installing the cables, the idea came up to use those fibers to carry out some tasks at the local extractive reserve. Embratel Educação was then born.

— We can see that the Internet is a powerful tool for regular education. Our project is focused on supporting formal, public education, opening the possibility of accessing the world and conducting surveys with the children. The outcome may seem trifling, but school drop-out is dramatically reduced. When the existence of PCs and Internet connection at school is perceived, they come to school every day – explains Embratel Institute director Luiz Bressan. The project spends around R$ 600 thousand every year. In addition to Internet access, students are offered ten online computing programs and educational videos. Today the project is running at schools in the states of Amazonas, Tocantins, Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, Goiás, Bahia and Pernambuco, including Fernando de Noronha. In some of them the conditions are beneath those of the big cities. — In many extractive reserves, power is still supplied by generators. Therefore, if they run out of oil to feed the generator, the children have to turn the computers off – tells Bressan. – Ibama, one of our partners in that initiative, is planning to replace generators by solar panels.

The next accomplishment of Embratel Educação program is the forthcoming implementation of Internet Access in six other schools. This time, demand will increase due to another Embratel Project: Star One C1 satellite launched in November by Embratel. – The best part is that not only students are using the Internet.

The entire community takes part in the Project – stresses Bressan.