As the country understandably moves to remote education, we must step up every effort to support and protect our most vulnerable students. The unfortunate truth is that economic deprivation and digital poverty is a significant factor affecting remote learning.
This is a complex problem, but there is one clear issue that we can address: the cost of accessing online resources for the lowest income families.
That’s why I won’t stop shouting about ‘zero rating’ education websites. This is tech speak for mobile networks and internet providers taking away data charges for accessing certain education websites – so it won’t cost the user, nor count towards their data limits.
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The importance of this cannot be overstated. The latest figures from Ofcom highlight that up to 1 million children can only access the internet via a mobile device, meaning that they’re trying to replicate that classroom experience through a phone.
And even worse, an Ofcom survey in December found that one in five households reported problems with the affordability of their telecoms services – equivalent to 4.7 million households. What’s more, five per cent of households had lowered how much they spend on clothes and even food to pay for data for their child to learn.