Intel and Barclays will provide 550 laptops to teachers at schools in the UK’s most disadvantaged communities, as part of a new initiative to close the digital divide.
The supply is part of the Tech4Teachers project under the non-profit Digital Poverty Alliance, and aims to help teachers of more than 20,000 UK schoolchildren overcome inadequate online access.
As part of the project, Intel and Barclays will also launch a collaboration room for participating teachers to share best practices, ask questions, and seek guidance.
Despite numerous efforts to close the digital divide among students, CEO of the Digital Poverty Alliance and the Learning Foundation, Paul Finnis, believes that teachers have been left behind. According to the non-profit’s findings in 2021, almost one in two (47%) UK teachers lacked the adequate technology to effectively teach their pupils.
According to Finnis, equipping teachers with suitable hardware is “vital in supporting pupils and ultimately building the necessary digital skills to tackle digital poverty”.
“Teachers must not be forgotten by the Government or industry in efforts to ‘level-up’. How can we support children to learn how to use devices and develop digital skills if their teachers don’t have suitable technology to teach them?” he added.
Commenting on the announcement, Barclays chairman Nigel Higgins said that, despite the UK “starting to emerge from the most acute stage of the crisis”, many people are still impacted by the challenges of the pandemic.
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Higgins announced that Barclays would be extending its 100x100 UK COVID-19 Community Relief Fund for a second time, having originally launched the programme in May 2020.
This will allow Barclays to “support 250 UK grassroots charities in their crucial work in our local communities” as well as finance Barclays’ share of the donated laptops.
The first iteration of the Tech4teachers programme in 2021 saw electrical retailer Currys provide 1,000 laptops for teachers and teaching assistants at schools across the UK.
However, not every hardware donation initiative has been successful. In January 2021, the UK government was criticised for providing vulnerable children with laptops infected with a "self-propagating network worm". The Windows-based devices were found to be infected with Gamarue.1, a worm Microsoft identified in 2012.
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