Launched in 1993, SchoolNet was initiated by the federal, provincial and territorial governments, educational organizations and industry partners. Their goal was to link Canadian schools and libraries via the INTERNET
, particularly those in remote areas, and to foster the website creation of Canadian educational content in English and French.
As of 1997, SchoolNet had provided Internet access for all 433 First Nations schools under federal jurisdiction. At this point, SchoolNet was halfway towards its overall goal of having all of Canada's 16 500 schools and 3400 public libraries online. SchoolNet's websites feature content created by teachers and students from across Canada on subjects ranging from math and science to women in Canadian history. These websites were averaging 2.5 million visitors per month as of the 1996-97 school year (English: www.schoolnet.ca; French: www.rescol.ca).
An example of the project's focus on Canadian content was its funding of a digital collection of images and documents from museums and archives to provide source material for studies in Canadian history and culture. SchoolNet also fosters global electronic connections, and has twinned Canadian schools with schools as far afield as Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, South Africa and New Zealand.
Computers for Schools
A program related to SchoolNet, Computers for Schools, collects used computers from industry and government. The Telephone Pioneers, a group of current and retired employees of telecommunications companies, donate their skills and time to recondition and upgrade the computers for classroom use. The Telephone Pioneers also provide technical support to enable schools to establish Internet access.
Until 1999, SchoolNet was funded by Industry Canada, with an operating budget of $7 million per year, plus contributions in cash and services from government partners and corporations. The SchoolNet concept is now being adopted by other countries as a model way of encouraging students to learn skills relating to information technology and new media.