Tower Hamlets launches online fundraiser to buy children laptops

Around 10,000 school children are digitally disadvantaged in Tower Hamlets. Pic: J. Kelly Brito.

Children in Tower Hamlets without access to laptops and WiFi at home could be in line for support after the launch of a local-authority-backed fundraising campaign which is helping school children who are digitally disadvantaged.

Tower Hamlets council is working with the Tower Hamlets Education partnership and have raised £179,218 of their £1 million target on the JustGiving platform. The #EveryChildOnline initiative aims to get devices and WiFi connection to every school child in the borough. 

The initiative follows a Department for Education scheme which distributed 1.3million devices for school children nationwide in January as part of their ‘Get Help with Technology’ Programme helping young people learn at home during the pandemic. Tower Hamlets received 9,212 of these devices (as of 16 Feb) but this still left nearly 10,000 children in the borough without devices for their education. 

According to the JustGiving page, in Tower Hamlets one in four children are digitally disadvantaged – meaning they are unable to access online learning because they have no device of their own, no connection to the internet, or both. 

The site said: “Theres a real danger that this disadvantage will translate in the long-term to an education and opportunity gap between the richest and poorest children in Tower Hamlets, and across the country.”

Labour introduced the idea of the #EveryChildOnline campaign in January, they called on the government to get every child online access when the coronavirus lockdown led to learning from home and revealed the scale of the digital divide between the rich and poor. 

Chi Onwurah MP, Labour’s Shadow Digital Minister said: “Labour have continually warned about the dangers of the digital divide which risks leaving so many children and young people behind.”

The council has given £50,000 and 250 laptops towards the fund. Other donations to local schools include £54,417 from the Livery Schools Trust and £58,500 from the Tower Hamlets Education Partnership through corporate and personal donations. 

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