More children have been given their own laptops in the East End to help them get online and close the “digital gap” between rich and poor.
Some 30 pupils at Poplar’s Manorfield Primary — with half the youngsters from homes that don’t have online learning — have been given devices by the East End Community Foundation.
“The internet nowadays is a basic utility,” the foundation’s chief executive Tracey Walsh said.
“But digital inequality disproportionately affects families in the East End, where 50 per cent of homes are below the poverty line.
“Low-income families who can’t afford internet are at a disadvantage as they can’t search for jobs online or reach public services like Universal Credit — so it pushes them further into poverty.”
– Credit: Rehan Jamil
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The laptops are part of the foundation’s Connecting Communities project set up in June last year with the Letta Trust, Tower Hamlets Council and Poplar Harca housing organisation to tackle digital inequality.
The pandemic threw a spotlight on the learning gap between rich and poor, which it is estimated has widened by 46 per cent in 12 months.
The project has now reached 200 families through schools that identify those most in need and provides laptops, digital training and a year’s free broadband.
– Credit: Rehan Jamil
Manorfield is the ninth school in the project, which is hoped may soon be extended to pensioners, who make up 79pc of digital exclusion.
Headteacher Paul Jackson said: “These laptops are having a lasting legacy, making a difference to children for years to come.”
The latest batch of laptops has been paid for by Hill Group, which is building the Teviot Estate regeneration in Poplar where Manorfield School is located, to respond to “the immediate needs of the community” before pressing ahead with construction.
The foundation estimates 50,000 East End homes still don’t have internet, creating a barrier to learning and a gap that affects jobs and access to public services.
Its project is “one step closer to closing the digital divide in the East End” by creating opportunities for low-income families that most people take for granted.
It aims to get 300 more homes up and running on the internet by the end of the year.
– Credit: ©Rehan Jamil