Activism

Donate your old laptop to schools in lockdown with this online map

Volunteers have created an online map to connect schools with people and organisations who can donate a laptop, computer or tablets

Opened old laptop on white table and metal wrench could

Image credit: Dejan Krsmanovic/Flickr

Got an old laptop collecting dust? A tablet stuffed in the bottom of a drawer? Now you can put it to good use by donating it to disadvantaged children and schools to learn remotely during lockdown.

Almost two million children do not have access to a home computer for remote learning. But one group of volunteers is looking to meet that demand and stop poorer kids missing out on their education.

Anyone with an old laptop or computer can use the online map built by TechForUK to find a school near them and donate their equipment.

The interactive map details nearly 1,000 schools who need devices. It connects them with the organisations donating laptops and tablets so they can work together directly.

“The response to our work on this went completely viral,” TechForUK co-founder Mike Butcher said. “We knew we had to help.”

“We saw the appeals from schools for laptops on social media and wanted to harness the tech community to help get surplus equipment safely and simply to those that need it. Our map helps individuals and companies that want to give, as well as giving schools a place to advertise their needs.”

Schools in need of devices can add their details to the map. TechForUK asked individuals with spare devices to donate to check with schools and refurbishment services about their requirements. 

In autumn the group created an interactive map directing families to businesses offering free meals during half term. Volunteers created it after ministers refused to continue supplying food to children through the holiday.

The new map also shows services offering to refurbish and convert laptops for pupils for free.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson pledged one million devices for schools in need. But up to 1.78 million children don’t have computers at home, Ofcom estimated. Campaigners said thousands of children will still be forced to use mobile phones or go into schools.

The Government is facing court action over its alleged failure to ensure all children can access school work from home.

The shortfall in devices and broadband given to low-income households forces disadvantaged and BAME children into school, campaigners the Good Law Project said, where there is a risk of them picking up Covid-19.

“As a school governor I have talked to a number of headteachers,” TechForUK volunteer Stephen Way said. “There is a gulf between the equipment being supplied by the Government and the needs of students in most schools.

“It’s not just access to a laptop that is a problem for students from deprived households. They need somewhere safe to work with wifi access too. But getting devices to them is a big enabler so we hope to make that process easier while pushing for more broadband access”.

More than 880,000 children only have a mobile connection at home, the Ofcom research showed, while 4.2 million kids live in poverty across the UK – around nine in a classroom of 30.

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