In a bid to tackle the digital divide that’s been exacerbated by the Covid lockdown, the Mail is urging everyone, from big corporates to individual readers, to help it deliver computers to those struggling to access online learning.
Using donations of computers from firms, the laptops will be refurbished up to the specifications required by the Department for Education, which is working alongside the Mail to provide the devices to the schools.
In addition to adding many thousands of computers into the supply chain, the Mail will be working to combat data poverty and be calling on the telecoms giants to end the high charges for data, which are leaving families financially crippled, say the publishers.
Readers responded over the weekend by donating £250,000, with thousands of contributions flooding in – many from grandparents – coupled with heartfelt messages of support.
Funds raised by the Daily Mail’s ‘Computers for Kids’ campaign will be donated to the Mail Force charity, which last year delivered more than 42 million pieces of PPE to support the NHS and other healthcare workers as the country faced a PPE crisis.
Geordie Greig, Editor of the Daily Mail, said: “This Daily Mail campaign aims to help end the digital divide in Britain. It is shocking that more than a million children do not have access to a laptop. We want to try to make a difference in the same way that our last MailForce campaign did.
“Our readers showed incredible generosity then and I hope they will get behind this campaign, as we help accelerate the process of getting computers to children in need.”
According to the publishers, the Daily Mail’s campaign has been hailed by England rugby star Maro Itoje, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, all the main teaching unions, and the Children’s Commissioner for England Anne Longfield.
Education secretary Gavin Williamson, said: “We know how difficult this past year has been for young people who have had their education disrupted by the pandemic, which is why we’ve provided laptops and tablets at such speed and scale to those who need them the most.
“The Daily Mail’s support in building on the aid provided by government can only be a good thing and I welcome the undoubted generous response of Mail readers, ensuring even more young people can benefit from a device for both home education and into the future.”
Lord Blunkett, the former education secretary, has warned of a “new kind of educational apartheid” created by the digital divide.
“I find it heart-breaking that the one of legacies of Covid now threatens to be a new kind of educational apartheid, as the gap between Britain’s most advantaged children - and the most deprived - only grows further,” he writes.
“Quite simply, our children need laptops if they are to learn. That is why I’m backing the Mail’s campaign to get the equipment, connectivity and conditions right for youngsters to have everything they need – computers, software and support – to be able to learn at home and begin catching up in the months and years ahead.”
Maro Itoje, who has been leading a personal campaign to tackle the injustice, said: “This digital divide poses a profound threat to [children’s] futures; which is why I am campaigning – and supporting the Daily Mail’s drive – to get laptops into the homes of these children, the most disadvantaged in the country. Unless we do this, the adverse effect on them will last a lifetime.”
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