In April 2020, Tropical Cyclone (TC) Harold struck and caused widespread destruction in the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, and Tonga. On 5 April, it strengthened into a Category 5 severe tropical cyclone, the highest rating on the Australian scale.
The Lycée de Luganville, a school located in Vanuatu’s Espiritu Santo, was established in 1956 and is the largest school in the northern district. The infrastructure of the school was damaged by Cyclone Harold, and teachers and students were unable to return to school for classes. The local government has been actively working with partners such as Kacific (Kacific Broadband Satellite Group) to resolve the problem.
On 22 May 2020, Minister of Education and Training (MoET), Simeon Seule, officiated the launch of satellite broadband services in Lycée de Luganville using the Kacific1 satellite. He was quick to lead this initiative and respond to the aftermath of the devastation of TC Harold in the affected area after his two days field visit with his officers immediately after the cyclone.
This initiative brings urgent relief to the affected schools without roofs, damaged books, and serves to bridge the digital divide. With high-speed internet connectivity, the teachers and students will participate in home-based learning -without the curriculum being disrupted. Students will also participate in other educational activities such as accessing online libraries to conduct independent research and learning as well as attending free online classes found on open-source educational sites.
The Lycée de Luganville is now equipped with Kacific’s broadband solution. The key advantages of this solution are that users will gain access to affordable high-speed internet services made available without the need for investments in expensive infrastructure or need for licenses, thus speeding up the process of establishing internet connectivity in any area.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony was attended by the Office of the Prime Minister, Mr. Bob Loughman; Minister Seule; Mr. Marc Ati, Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade; Mr. Willie Saatearoto, Minister of Youth and Sports; Mr. James Bule, Minister of Tourism, Commerce, Trades and Ni Vanuatu Business and Esmon Saimon, Minister of Justice and Social Welfare. At the event, Minister Seule met with Mr. Barthelemy Ngwele, Principal of Lycée de Luganville. Minister Seule and Minister Ati also spoke to Mr. Christian Patouraux, Kacific Founder and CEO over a conference call with the use of internet service.
Mr. Seule Davidson told Mr. Patouraux, who is based in Singapore, he is delighted Kacific can provide its technological solution during these trying times in Vanuatu to its students and faculties to facilitate the transition to online education.
The Prime Minister’s Office was represented by John William Timakata and he delivered the Prime Minister’s speech: “We are here to mark a big milestone in our history in education and technology,” he stated.
“The technology that we are launching today will allow us to respond effectively to the restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 situation and with internet connectivity services, our children will continue to have gain access to quality education.”
Minister Bule said at the ribbon-cutting: “Today marks a milestone in our history, now the technology of internet connectivity has arrived at our shores. We have come to a stage in which we can use this satellite broadband internet to catch up with today’s standards.”
Minister Seule: “Today is the launch of a trial of the National ICT Policy initiative. This Policy expresses a commitment of the Government of Vanuatu to maximise the contribution, efficiency and effectiveness of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in achieving the National Vision of ‘A Just, Educated, Healthy and Wealthy Vanuatu’, thereby empowering and benefiting every citizen and resident of Vanuatu.
“We welcome the support of all development partners as we embark on this journey. We believe that this policy will help improve employment opportunities for our youth population in the years to come despite the challenges of COVID – 19 or other forms of natural disasters.”
Mr Patouraux said: “Internet connectivity helps bridge the digital divide. Our new Kacific1 satellite is a game changer in Vanuatu. It gives access to affordable high-speed internet to everyone in Vanuatu, wherever they are and in all circumstances. Students of Lycée de Luganville can now continue to catch up with their school curriculum through home-based online learning activities. With internet service, this pedagogy will benefit the students currently and in the long run.”
Millie Ogden, a woman entrepreneur, and 3 Link Founder and CEO, said: “My family and I have been in Luganville for four generations. It has always been my dream to connect my community with affordable high-speed internet. I attended Santo East French school myself and I am proud to witness how our children can now have access to internet connectivity services. With this technology, I look forward to seeing how our future leaders will take our country to new heights with their deep sense of curiosity and quest for knowledge.”
Mr. Joseph Kemuel, a teacher at Lycée de Luganville said: “Vanuatu is a country isolated from the world and now with the Kacific’s high-speed broadband satellite internet, we can gain access to the world within seconds. Our teachers and students will benefit substantially from this technology, and e-learning is also becoming a compulsory pedagogy.
Cyclone Harold has destroyed most of all our classrooms but with internet connectivity services, our students would no longer need to be present in a classroom to gain access to education. They can now gain access to learning tools from anywhere, whether if it is in their house or their garden. Kacific’s satellite broadband service will also reduce our overall education costs.”
Sandra Philip, a student at Lycée de Luganville said: “We face the challenge in being able to afford the internet connectivity services. Now that the school is equipped with High-Speed Internet service, we can gain access to the internet. It motivates us to conduct research and gain knowledge of the world.”
Kacific Broadband Satellite Group is a next-generation broadband satellite operator. It is committed to providing universal, fast, high-quality broadband access at an affordable cost using robust technologies and an agile business model.
3 Link is a licensed telecommunications provider that offers affordable broadband internet solutions and services in Vanuatu. The company is headquartered in Luganville, Santo. Behind 3 Link is Boeing’s, and Kacific’s state of the art satellite technology. The high-technology solutions allow the 3 Link to deliver broadband internet to any location in Vanuatu.
3 Link aims to connect the rural villages to bridge the digital divide. The company was founded to meet the challenges of telecommunication needs due to the COVID-19 crisis and TC Harold disaster recovery rebuilding efforts.