Brazilian Ministry of Education | Featured success story:
The Largest Digital Inclusion Project in the World.
As the technology gap between schools and the real world narrows, educators across the globe realize the importance of digital and online learning. However, even as the tech gap closes, an ever-widening economic rift in Brazil has brought particular attention to this fact.
To better prepare their students for the reality of a post-industrial 21st-century workplace, the Brazilian Ministry of Education (Ministério da Educação – MEC) took bold steps. Drafting a project to offer digital access to students from public schools in all 5,564 municipalities in the country, the Brazillian Ministry strove to maintain the lowest possible cost, while ensuring that teachers and students make the most out of this infrastructure.
In a country as massive as Brazil, with many schools located in remote and difficult to reach areas, the projectʼs success faced a long list of potential pitfalls and hurdles:
- Desktop management and deployment in a wide geographical area.
- Insufficient, often nonexistent infrastructure.
- A limited budget.
- Unstable power grids.
- Limited space in schools.
- Difficult access to schools due to ill-maintained roads.
- The remote location of schools (e.g.: indigenous and rural areas).
To have any hope of achieving success, the Brazilian Ministry of Education discovered a possible innovative solution, Shared Resource Computing (SRC). Rather than relying on the standard one PC per seat approach, SRC divides the resources of a single PC between several users. This set up allows for streamlined access to providing the digital education framework required by the project:
- Less bulky equipment which means lower volume and weight, therefore reducing the associated logistics costs.
- Reduced energy consumption and maintenance cost, a critical piece in rural areas.
- Less upfront investment, enabling schools across the country to acquire the needed equipment.
It is possible for up to nine users to share the resources of a single machine (word processor, the Internet, spreadsheets, etc.) independently and simultaneously. By bringing together Userful Multiplier virtualization software, the SRC hardware developed and manufactured by ThinGlobal, and the delivery provided by large system builders (Daruma, CCE, Itautec, and Positivo), the project was a massive success.
At the conclusion of the first phase of the project, there were more than 400,000 desktops installed in both urban and rural public schools across the country. By the end of 2014, that number had increased to over 1,000,000 individual terminals. Using ThinGlobalʼs sharing hardware, the Brazilian Ministry of Education saved nearly 60% in associated hardware acquisition expenses, and 80% of electricity costs, in addition to saving money on support and maintenance.
“Thanks to this project we will be able to provide information technology access to almost every single Brazilian student. But the scope of the project goes beyond that: it is only the beginning of a cycle for children, teenagers and adults that will be socially integrated from now on,”
The Ministry of Education created in 1930, shortly after the arrival of Getúlio Vargas. There are eighty years in which the Ministry of Education sought to promote quality education. To promote digital inclusion in the country, the Ministry of Education created the National Educational Technology Program ( ProInfo ). The educational program to support the school use of computers in public primary education. The project was conducted by the Education Department at the Ministry of Education Distance.
In 2006, there was a pilot project intended to deploy computer labs with multi-terminals in rural schools, which the government had not been able to start due to infrastructure and logistics issues. “It was our first project, and it was a great challenge,” said Luiz Claudio Ferreira, CEO of ThinNetworks.
Multi-terminal or multi-station is a system that allows simultaneous access by multiple users to a single computer, dividing all machine resources, independently and simultaneously. It provides cost savings, efficient space use, and low maintenance costs. By adding a monitor, keyboard, and mouse to each station, the user will have a custom workspace. Thier own password and use autonomously applications.
“Children count the days to computer class. The biggest advantage that this solution has given us the opportunity to access technology. Unfortunately, most of these kids do not have access at home or anywhere else,”
And the initial project was very successful and was followed by two more new projects approached in the same way. The partnership has only grown. Today, ThinNetworks (part of ProInfo, the government educational program), in collaboration with technology companies, advocates the educational use of computers in its public primary schools.
“The program led to new schools computers, digital resources, and more educational content. It was one of the biggest digital inclusion projects in the world,” said, Luiz Claudio Ferreira, CEO of ThinNetworks.
Thin Clients reduces initial costs of hardware and software.
Increase the number of students who can access computers.
It reduces maintenance costs because one only needs to maintain and support one conventional computer.
Reduces power consumption and protects the environment.
Helps students increase collaboration and computing skills.
It makes it possible to work on independent projects or collaborate with others on class projects.
It has Windows features, such as Windows Desktop, Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player, Windows Search and Jump Lists.
Runs Microsoft Office and other educational applications.
Stores data in public folders, shared or uses a USB drive to keep personal files.
Provides free time for teachers who can devote to teaching and not the management of technology, as it uses only one computer instead of several.
Install updates and patches automatically or selectively to help increase security and reliability.
Over 800,000 workstations installed in Brazil’s schools throughout past years. The number shows the size of the effort being made by ThinNetworks Brasilia, in partnership with the federal government. Teachers with better working conditions are excited about the opportunity and hope that it gives its students.