UK Government to Provide Devices to Underprivileged Children

Category: Education/Family


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. foster care / ˈfɔ stər kɛər / (n) – a situation wherein a child is cared for by other people other than the parents

    The child was in foster care for 5 years before being adopted.

  2. deprived / dɪˈpraɪvd / (adj) – lacking the basic necessities in life like food and shelter

    Deprived children tend to have a lot of demands when they grow up.

  3. lose out / luz aʊt / (phrasal) – to not have the chance to do something

    I was late to the party, so I lost out on the chance to win the raffle.

  4. exclusion / ɪkˈsklu ʒən / (n) – the state of not being included in an activity or a group

    Student activists do not approve of the new dress code because it promotes exclusion.

  5. disparity / dɪˈspær ɪ ti / (n) – lack of equality

    The labor secretary pointed out the huge disparity in wages among workers.


Read the text below.

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.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think it’s fair that the initiative prioritizes Year 10 students? Why or why not?
• How can schools support students who are not prioritized in the initiative (e.g. give them other learning materials that do not require the internet, conduct private lessons with social distancing)? Discuss.

Discussion B

• In your opinion, does the issue of digital exclusion also exist among students in your country? Explain.
• Do you think the problem of digital exclusion will get better or worse in the next 5 years? Explain.