More than 60,000 Suffolk families struggle with home schooling due to digital poverty
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More than 60,000 people did not have access to the internet last month leaving some parents unable to home school their children because of digital poverty.
New figures released by Suffolk County Council show the extent of digital poverty, which means people are unable to access smart devices or the internet because technology is too expensive or they live in rural areas.
The issue has become more evident during the coronavirus outbreak, where parents have become increasingly reliant on technology to home school their children.
Judith Cavanagh, coordinator of the End Child Poverty coalition, said: “Digital exclusion is one of the many ways in which children growing up in poverty have been at a greater disadvantage to their peers at school, even before the outbreak of Covid-19.
“It is not right that children from low income families are being further cut adrift during this pandemic.
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“The Government must do more now to tackle this digital exclusion and put ending child poverty at the heart of our economic recovery so that all children can have the chance to succeed at school.”
The county council has however confirmed that it has received 1,068 laptops from the government to loan to children in need.
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The scheme, in collaboration with a number of council led projects, will help those suffering from digital poverty.
A further 118 tablet devices are also expected to be delivered in the coming days.
All devices will be loaned to disadvantaged Year 10 pupils.
Mary Evans, cabinet member for children’s services, education and skills at Suffolk County Council, said: “The council is working closely with Suffolk’s school leaders who are very aware of those children and young people who may not have access to laptops at home to enable them to undertake online learning, make use of our supporting services or keep in contact with their friends.
“Schools have responded in many ways to digital poverty. We are aware that some schools have developed paper-based learning packs.
“They have done this where the vast majority of their pupils are not in a position to access on-line learning.
“Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, schools have remained open to vulnerable pupils who can of course then access online resources when in school.”