Remarks by Doreen Bogdan-Martin, ITU BDT Director, at the International Day of Education – Panel on Promising Innovations to Transform Education

UNESCO and Global Partnership for Education celebrated the International Day of Education with the theme, "Recover and Revitalize Education for the COVID-19 Generation."

The Third International Day of Education will stress the necessity to protect and mobilize funding for education, give voice to “community heroes” (who acted to leave no learner behind during school closures), and present innovations that pave the way towards more resilient and inclusive education systems.  


Monday, 25 January 2021

Moderator: Jo Bourne, Chief Technical Officer, Global Partnership for Education.


  • H.E. Maria Victoria Angulo Gonzalez, Minister of Education of Colombia 
  • Ranjitsinh Disale, Global Teacher Prize winner 
  • Oleg FiglinVice President for Europe, Middle East and Africa, Blackboard  
  • Otto Orondaam, Founder of Slum2School  
  • Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Director of the Telecommunication Development Bureau, International Telecommunication Union

Giga was launched in 2019 and is now actively working with 14 governments to create investment opportunities for blended public and private sector funding, to build the infrastructure needed to provide universal access to every school and equip learners with high-quality, vetted, and safe content. 

As the UN Secretary-General said yesterday, we must step up our efforts to reimagine education – including by bridging the digital divide and rethinking curricula to equip learners with the skills and knowledge to flourish in our rapidly changing world. 

Let me briefly highlight three ways in which Giga is bringing innovation to education and helping pave the road towards more resilient and inclusive education systems. 

Firstly, we are pioneering innovations in mapping connectivity demand. Worldwide, we have now mapped over 800,000 schools using existing ITU mapping data and national data banks. 

Ware also leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies to improve our mapping capabilities. We are helping countries around the world map their previously unmapped schools, showing how technology can dramatically speed up the process and generate valuable insights at a scale that cannot be achieved using conventional survey techniques. We are happy to have Minister Angulo González on this panel, as Colombia has been one of the first countries where Giga has helped contribute to the mapping efforts.  

Our second focus of innovation is around financing  

Giga is using the principles of “demand aggregation”, lowering cost of infrastructure, and risk diversification to support leaders in developing sustainable financial models for universal digital access, through, for example, subsidizing market creation costs and incentivizing private sector investment.  

Our third innovation is around partnerships. We know that bridging the digital divide will be all about collaboration, and Giga is serving as a powerful partnership in its own right. As an example: 

  • Ericsson became the first private sector partner to make a multi-million dollar commitment to the Giga initiative. 
  • Softbank Investment Advisers is helping us craft country-specific financial models and business cases to attract investment.  
  • Dubai Cares will also be supporting Giga by empowering local entrepreneurs and leveraging the resources from the private and public sectors in new ways essential to closing the digital divide. 
  • We are also pleased to be cochairing together with UNESCOHuawei and Ericsson, the Broadband Commission Working Group on Digital Learning. This group will provide guidance on innovative approaches to education and training recovery.  

Education systems need to be transformed to become more agile, more resilient, and more innovative. We need school systems to be shock absorbent and crisis respondent, and we believe Giga provides the global platform that will help us achieve that goal. 

Thank you.