Liberty Global’s Belgium subsidiary Telenet and education ICT specialist YES.be are working together to help schools digitalise education and in particular, support vulnerable students. Telenet has been providing broadband internet to the majority of Flemish schools for ten years. Thanks to this new partnership, primary, secondary and higher education establishments are being offered an internet connection, Wi-Fi network, laptops, software, security and technical support. Written-off laptops that are still working will be given a second life with vulnerable families, in cooperation with the non-profit organisation Ondernemers voor een Warm België.
The pandemic has exposed the need for ICT in the curriculum. The Flemish Government recently announced that it will invest 375 million euros in the digitalisation of education over the next two years. With their joint offer, Telenet and YES.be will help schools, teachers and pupils take that digital leap in the coming years, easily and efficiently.
For almost ten years, nine out of ten Flemish primary and secondary schools have had access to broadband internet via Telenet. EuroSys, the company behind YES.be, has been helping companies with their ICT challenges for more than thirty years and has been doing this for schools for more than ten years. With the new partnership between Telenet and YES.be, schools now have an ICT offer where they can find everything in one place – from a safe internet connection and network, through to laptops and software, plus extensive guarantees and 24/7 support.
ICT coordinators who have already mapped out their school digital policy will find the products and services they need within the new offering. Schools which are not so advanced can call on a YES.be Digicoach to help them make the right ICT choices.
Martine Tempels, Senior Vice President, Telenet Business said, “By offering Internet access to the majority of Flemish schools in recent years, we know very well where the pain points are and what education needs in terms of digitalisation. We also want to get everyone on board and believe in equal digital opportunities for every child. It is our mission to make the digital world accessible to all, because it does not stop at the school gate. With this partnership with YES.be we will help teachers, pupils, students and ICT coordinators make the digital leap but will always ensure this aligns with the school’s pedagogical path.”
With the YES Academy, teachers and pupils receive support and training through an online knowledge centre and platform. Anyone can use this to hone their digital skills and find answers to questions (such as how to deal with cyberbullying, sexting, installing Wi-Fi or laptop security). Parents who need support are also welcome on this platform.
With YES-365 on all devices, access to laptops, software programmes and applications is easy. Pupils and teachers log in once and then have secure access to all their applications: sending e-mails, creating documents and accessing all relevant school applications. It offers one digital workplace, where everything is online and automatically backed up, users do not need to install anything and the laptops are always up-to-date.
Mark Aerts, CEO of YES.be added, “We want schools to be able to make a sustainable digital leap. Becoming digital means much more than just providing laptops. We have also noticed that schools have many questions about the Flemish Government’s Digital Leap (Digisprong) and realise that it may correspond with a great deal of extra work. By providing a comprehensive offering, we unburden and support schools in digitalising their education, the goal of the Digital Leap.”
Laptops for vulnerable families
Laptops that are written off at the end of their useful life are donated by Telenet and YES to Ondernemers voor een Warm België. This non-profit organisation ensures that the laptops are made ready for reuse. They are purged, checked, allocated a new mouse and up-to-date software is installed. The appliances are then given a second life with vulnerable families.
Flemish Minister of Education Ben Weyts is investing ten times more than the previous annual budget for ICT and is encouraging private companies to develop customised offers for education.
He commented, “Until recently, schools have not been serious players in the digital market, because their ICT budgets were simply too low. Schools can now spend extra funding in areas such as ICT equipment, infrastructure or digital teaching aids. So from now on, companies will be interested in targeting our schools as well. And that can only improve education for both teachers and students.”