Vodafone announced it is donating 10,000 dongle devices to Business2Schools, which will distribute them to schools in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Heads can give them to children who still lack the connectivity they need to access online learning and catch-up classes, which are likely to play a key role even as schools reopen from 8th March.
Vodafone also announced it has made a £200,000 donation to the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s ‘Learn at Home’ campaign. This donation will enable it to distribute 500 computer kits to disadvantaged young people and provide specialist training to youth workers so they can teach digital and coding skills.
Head teachers and education trusts report that while many schools have received laptops, a significant number of children still lack the connectivity they need to access online learning and catch-up classes. The donations follow Vodafone’s successful schools.connected programme which gave 350,000 SIM cards to 9,000 schools and colleges across the UK. Schools that received SIMs via the programme can pair them with the dongle devices.
Business2Schools is one of the fastest growing charities in the UK and is currently working to distribute thousands of laptops donated by businesses to schools that need them. To date, it hasn’t had access to dongles, which will help children with limited broadband access at home. More than 4,000 schools are already registered with Business2Schools.
The Raspberry Pi Foundation has helped millions of young people learn at home by delivering direct-to-student learning experiences, supporting teachers to deliver remote lessons, providing online coding clubs and by getting computers into the hands of children who previously didn’t have one at home.
Ahmed Essam, CEO, Vodafone UK, said: “The pandemic has highlighted the tragedy of digital poverty and its impact on the most disadvantaged children and young people. As the education recovery mission begins, both face-to-face and online learning will be crucial, so it’s vitally important that every young person has access to connectivity.
“These donations will give thousands more children access to the internet and I’m delighted we’re working with specialists in tackling digital exclusion – Business2Schools and the Raspberry Pi Foundation – to deliver connectivity where it is needed most.”
Lindsey Parslow, CEO, Business2Schools said: “We’re pleased that in addition to laptops, we can now provide Vodafone dongles to schools and children that need them. Many of the schools registered with us have already requested an allocation, highlighting the ongoing need for connectivity as well as devices.
“In addition to the obvious benefit of access to remote learning, the digital skills children gain by using tech in their day-to-day lives is invaluable.”
Philip Colligan, CEO of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, said: “Having a computer and connectivity to learn at home is transformational for young people. The pandemic has highlighted the digital divide that already existed and that will continue to hold back young people unless we solve it.
“Vodafone’s donation to our Learn at Home campaign allows us to provide Raspberry Pi computers for young people who need them the most, along with the support and training that makes sure they can use them to learn.”
This programme is being supported with a radio campaign in which Vodafone again asks the public to donate unwanted smartphones and tablets as part of its Great British Tech Appeal. Vodafone will cover the cost of postage and packing, add six months of free unlimited data connectivity, and send the devices to disadvantaged families via charity Barnardo’s. To donate visit: vodafone.co.uk/techappeal.
Vodafone is also part of the Government’s Get Help With Technology programme to increase data allowances for children in need and is giving unlimited data to Vodafone customers who join the scheme.
In addition, it has ‘zero rated’ the Department for Education-funded Oak National Academy so its customers can access the online resources and lessons without using up their data allowances.