El Salvador is emerging as a trailblazer in Central America for its remarkable strides in narrowing the digital divide. The Presidency’s Secretariat of Innovation is spearheading the “Conectando El Salvador” program, which extends connectivity to parks and public spaces.
Daniel Méndez, the Secretary of Innovation, explained that this program is pivotal in constructing digital highways, facilitating the transfer of data, information, and investments through technological infrastructure. This places the country firmly in the globalized world and enables its citizens to integrate into a technological ecosystem.
“The program is not just about providing internet access but also about building digital expressways that will lead us towards digital transformation. The objective is to promote the democratic use of the internet, with a particular focus on benefiting students, teachers, and healthcare workers,” said Méndez.
As part of this digital divide reduction effort, President Nayib Bukele recently announced that Google will commence operations in El Salvador, making it the first country in Central America to have a Google presence.
“Google has formed a partnership with El Salvador to bring innovative and technological development. This is an unprecedented step, a progressive advancement. Having Google as a strategic ally strengthens projects like Google for Education, with which we have already collaborated. This is a secure investment,” Méndez affirmed.
Additionally, El Salvador is taking the lead in regional educational innovation, as reported by the Minister of Education, Mauricio Pineda. It is the Central American country that invests the most in bridging the digital divide in education.
The Salvadoran government has allocated $600 million for this purpose, encompassing significant strategies such as providing computers to fourth-grade to high school students, distributing digital tablets to children in grades one to three, as well as connectivity packages and teacher training.
This year, students have benefited from the installation of satellite internet in their schools, particularly in rural areas where connectivity has historically been problematic. Connectivity in parks contributes to student development, allowing them to engage in extracurricular assignments, educational activities, and enhance their digital competencies and skills.
These achievements have garnered recognition from international organizations like the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Teams from UNICEF supported the Ministry of Education with appropriate equipment and software to ensure access to virtual education and the learning of this population, thereby contributing to closing the digital divide in the country.