Gates and Zuckerberg pour $9m into US school broadband scheme

By Peter Gothard
06 Dec 2013 View Comments
Bill Gates juggling

Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg have donated $9m to US non-profit organisation EducationSuperHighway, an advisory group that helps schools test their broadband connection speeds and advises on ways to improve them.

Zuckerberg, who earned $3.8bn in 24 hours alone back in July – when positive quarter earnings caused company shares to surge by 30 per cent – and Gates – who is still estimated to earn $250 every second – have contributed the money at a time when 72 per cent of schools in the US are estimated to have under-speed, or even completely absent, internet connections for students to apply to their learning.

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Zucerkberg's contribution is the second round of funding to come out of his Startup:Education fund, the first being a $4m donation to Panorama Education, a group that helps schools create and process surveys to improve feedback between parent, teachers and schools.

EducationSuperHighway's system works by encouraging school students, teachers and administration staff to test their facility's connection and report it back to a centralised location. The group says 600,000 people have supplied data so far, and the donation from the two tech giants will only help to improve coverage.

Back in the UK, while no specific groups are active in this area, part of the government's new recommendations for ICT education include encouraging vendors to present schools with "a clear and transparent menu of services and pricing", and advises schools that broadband services are "generally very different from the home consumer".

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