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Bridging the digital divide

Blog post   •   Apr 29, 2021 08:09 GMT

Photo: Thomas Park

The Covid-19 pandemic meant that millions of children around the world had to make an instant switch to remote schooling for significant parts of last year, triggering the largest disruption of education systems in recent history. As not all families had sufficient devices to accommodate remote learning, it highlighted the digital divide like never before.

According to a study by the Pew Research Center, one-in-five parents claimed it was likely their children would not be able to complete their schoolwork because they did not have access to a computer at home (21%), and the lack of a reliable internet connection at home (22%) impacted their schoolwork.

CWT is acknowledging this stark inequality and for the second year in a row has been donating computer equipment to children and their families in underserved communities in Minneapolis, Minnesota, working in partnership with local charity, Minnesota Computers for Schools.

Over 1,500 pieces of computer equipment were dispatched. It took the Minnesota Computers team five hours to load up a truck with laptops, desktop computers, printers, monitors, keyboards, and mice.

The team is thrilled that devices that have surpassed their lifecycle for business purposes are ‘starting a second meaningful life’ enabling children from lower-income backgrounds to continue their education with as little disruption as possible, and ultimately, to realize their full potential. If you’re passionate about helping to close the digital divide in your community, here are three ways to get started.

Band together

Create a group of colleagues or parents & caregivers in your local community who are concerned about the digital divide and learn about the specific challenges being faced. Compile those challenges and personal stories into a list. Use the list and anecdotes gathered to find a solution such as presenting the evidence to local policymakers, starting a donation bank for unused devices, or fundraising for a remote learning charity.

Raise awareness of the need for free WiFi

Consider looking into whether your area can set up free WiFi hotspots or create a free interactive map to share online that lists places with free and safe connectivity.

Volunteer to help increase digital literacy

There are various organizations that help to teach digital skills to people of all ages, from setting up an email account to social media marketing. Your skills can change someone’s prospects. If you can’t find a local charity, consider posting your intention on a local group.

Blog author: Maaike Boer, Global Corporate Communications, CWT