Children's laptop campaign passes half way mark to 6,000 target
- Credit: Neil Didsbury
A campaign aiming to close the digital divide for children has secured another 2,000 laptops and tablets - taking it more than half way towards its target.
The Every Child Online campaign, which is being run by this newspaper alongside Norfolk County Council and the Norfolk Community Foundation, is aiming to provide a laptop or digital device to the 6,000 children across the county who are unable to access online learning.
Added to those already bought, Norfolk County Council's purchase of the 2,000 devices pushes the campaign past the half way mark to its 6,000 target.
It comes after £600,000 was made available from the authority's overall Covid response fund.
Of the most recent 2,013 devices purchased, 1,500 are Microsoft laptops, with a further 330 Google Chromebooks and 183 tablets.
As many as 276 of the devices have already been distributed to schools, with the remaining 926 laptops and 128 tablets allocated and expected to be delivered in the coming days.
So far a total of 34 schools have benefitted from the campaign.
The new devices cost around £440,000, with the remainder of funding to be used on tablets for primary school children and to assist with internet connections and other support.
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Tom Fitzpatrick, cabinet member for innovation, transformation and performance at the council, said: “Norfolk County Council has been working to improve digital connectivity with the aim of making Norfolk the best connected rural county in the UK.
"However, with the latest lockdown meaning that the majority of school students are working from home, it is vital to ensure all our children are provided with the equipment necessary to allow them to continue to learn and no one is disadvantaged by not having access to what they need."
He said they were extremely grateful to everyone who had helped.
And David Powles, editor of the EDP and Evening News, said: "It's brilliant news that the campaign has made such good progress so quickly. We know it's vital for young people to have access to online learning during this time, and no-one should miss out because of their background.
"We're grateful for all the donations so far and hope to deliver even more laptops and tablets to those who need them most."
The council's Labour group leader Steve Morphew added: "This difficult period has taught us that having the right devices and the right connectivity is critical for all young learners not just now but in the future."
Businesses and organisations can give pre-used devices to the council for refurbishment. To donate email email@example.com
Individuals and businesses can give funding to the NCF to be spent on new laptops and tablets and internet connections. To donate log on to https://www.norfolkfoundation.com/every-child-online/