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The UK Department for Education has announced that it will provide underprivileged students with devices to help them study while schools are temporarily closed.
Under this initiative, underprivileged students who are in Year 10 may borrow laptops, tablets, or other computer devices to enable them to attend online classes during the pandemic. The initiative prioritizes these students because they will be taking the General Certificate of Secondary Education examinations next year. The initiative also covers students looked after by a social worker or those leaving foster or residential care.
The Department for Education had previously announced that it will provide free online lessons to students across all years, which caused worry among students who do not have internet connection or computer devices at home. The new initiative is the government’s response to the concern that deprived students will lose out while classes are canceled.
Anne-Marie Canning, an executive from an educational organization, said that the current educational situation highlights the problem of digital exclusion. The exclusion happens when a student has no access to computer devices or stable internet connection. According to Canning, the need for the initiative proves that digital exclusion creates a huge disparity in education between rich and poor students. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson hopes that the new initiative can bridge this gap by enabling all children to continue learning during the global pandemic.