Encouraging Initial Results
As of 1997, SchoolNet had provided Internet access for all 433 First Nations schools under federal jurisdiction (see Education of Indigenous Peoples in Canada). At this point, SchoolNet was halfway towards its overall goal of having all of Canada's 16,500 schools and 3,400 public libraries online. SchoolNet's websites featured content created by teachers and students from across Canada on subjects ranging from math and science to women in Canadian history.
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 in Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, South Africa and New Zealand.
Computers for Schools
A program related to SchoolNet, Computers for Schools, collected used computers from businesses and governments. The Telephone Pioneers, a group of current and retired employees of telecommunications companies, donated their skills and time to recondition and upgrade the computers for classroom use. The Telephone Pioneers also provided technical support to enable schools to establish Internet access.
SchoolNet was funded by Industry Canada, with an operating budget of $7 million in 1999, plus contributions in cash and services from corporations and government partners. This program’s positive results have had an impact elsewhere in the world. The SchoolNet concept has been adopted by other countries as a model way of encouraging students to learn skills relating to information technology and new media.
Termination of Program
In March 2004, SchoolNet’s annual funding was cut from $45 million to $25 million. In 2006, all funding for the program ended. However, transitional funding was provided to continue the component of the program targeting Indigenous communities (First Nations SchoolNet), responsibility for which was transferred to the Education Branch of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada. Since 2011-12, First Nations SchoolNet has been part of the New Paths for Education program, whose objective is to support and fund activities that help to strengthen education for First Nations and to improve the quality of instruction in schools managed by First Nations.