Campaign to end ‘tech poverty’ for kids

Children without access to online technology risk being "excluded" from a wide range of activities, an educational charity has warned.

Teacher training Birmingham - image courtesy of Titan
Teacher training Birmingham - image courtesy of Titan

And it wants to raise £200,000 to help end ‘tech poverty’ in Birmingham, ensuring that every child who needs it has access to a device.

The brainchild of Birmingham charity the Titan Partnership, the ‘Computers for Children’ campaign is urging people to donate what they can to help provide more than 1,000 children from across the city with laptops or iPads.

Carolyn Chapman-Lees, CEO of the Titan Partnership, believes it is important to create a ‘level playing field’ for all children, regardless of their background.

And she added that the approach needs to be geared toward all children, not just certain age groups.

“Titan does a lot of work around inclusion and creating opportunities; we’re trying to create a level playing field for all students,” she says.

“We did a quick audit of our members asking how many students didn’t have access to a device. The initial response from 15 schools suggested that over 700 devices were needed. We’ve now had responses from 23 schools and 1,273 devices are required.

“We welcome what the government is doing in relation to the provision of devices and connectivity however that’s essentially just for disadvantaged Year 10 students.

“Titan’s campaign aims to reach children of all ages in primary and secondary schools that don’t have access to a device. We feel it’s equally important to get devices to primary age children as having access to online resources at an early age will help to minimise that attainment and skills gap that we know is prevalent in Birmingham.

“Tech poverty is another way that people are facing disadvantage. The Covid-19 situation is simply magnifying this huge issue.

“So essentially tech poverty is excluding our children – we’re excluding them from education, we’re excluding them socially, we’re excluding them economically, because let’s face it, digital skills and digital literacy are core components of the jobs that they will be applying for in the future.

“So from a very young age we’re not helping our children to develop these essential skillsets. Digital literacy in Birmingham is improving however is still extremely challenged because of tech poverty.

“It goes beyond children being able to access resources, doing their homework and getting feedback from their teachers, it’s about ensuring that they have that vital feeling of being included.”

To date the campaign has managed to raise just under £17,000 in three weeks, with a generous donation of £15,000 received from Birmingham-based financial services mutual, Wesleyan.

And Carolyn believes that now more than ever is a crucial time to be providing such resources, with potential future spikes in coronavirus cases meaning children could be forced back to home schooling.

“It may therefore be prudent for schools to plan for a future that has a blended approach of remote learning and classroom based learning. For this to be successful we need children to have constant access to devices.

“I think it’s vital that the government supports schools to develop more robust and sustainable digital teaching and learning strategies so that we’re better prepared should anything like this happen again in the future.

“The long term aim of Titan’s campaign is to raise £200,000 to provide around 1,000 devices. Within this target we’re hoping to also receive donations of devices.”

To donate to the campaign, visit: https://justgiving.com/campaign/computersforchildren

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