The UK’s Asda supermarket and Vodafone have partnered to donate 7,000 internet-connected laptops to schools around the country. The scheme has been set up in a bid to tackle digital exclusion and ensure that children can continue their education using online resources.
According to the statement, Asda is spending £2 million to enable each of its stores to donate at least 10 laptops to schools in the local area. Each of the laptops will come bundled with a headset and a mobile internet dongle which has a data allowance of 20GB, supplied by Vodafone, that will give kids access to the internet. The dongle and headsets will be paid for with a £500,000 contribution from The Asda Foundation, the supermarket’s charity arm.
Asda said that around 9% of children in the UK do not have access to a laptop, desktop or tablet at home. It said that the 1.1 million to 1.8 million children were primarily from disadvantaged backgrounds and without assistance would end up falling further behind their peers.
Asda has partnered with Dell Technologies to supply the laptops and it expects to deliver the first shipment of 3,500 laptops next month with the remainder to follow in March. Schools will be in charge of distributing the computers to students deemed a priority and Asda will supply tech support to schools that need assistance.
Commenting on the arrangement, CEO and President of Asda Roger Burnley said:
“It’s clear that digital exclusion is an issue affecting many thousands of children who attend schools in communities that we serve. These children have been disproportionately affected by the lockdown and are at risk of falling further behind their peers. We want to do all we can to help break down the digital barriers so they can continue their education remotely.”
The laptops will not be hand-me-downs but rather brand new and built to be durable making them ideal for children. The laptops will come pre-loaded with educational software so that students and parents can get on with learning as quickly as possible.