Asda is working with Dell to provide 7,000 laptops to schools across the UK to help those children who are at risk of falling behind in their education because they do not have the technology to take part in online lessons during lockdown.
The supermarket has formed a partnership with Dell and is investing £2.0m so that every Asda store in the UK can donate at least 10 laptops to a school in need in their local community.
Each laptop will have a tech bundle that includes a headset and a mobile internet dongle with a data allowance of 20GB supplied by Vodafone, Asda’s network partner. The dongle and data allowance has been funded by a £500,000 contribution from the retailer’s charity arm, The Asda Foundation.
Each Asda store will nominate a nearby primary or secondary school with a large proportion of families struggling to support home learning. Schools will be identified by the store’s Community Champions based on their existing partnerships through their community outreach programme. Asda’s Better Communities team will then review nominations using Government benchmarking data to ensure laptops are going to schools with the greatest need.
Roger Burnley, CEO and President of Asda, said:
“It’s clear that digital exclusion is an issue affecting many thousands of children who attend schools in communities that we serve. These children have been disproportionately affected by the lockdown and are at risk of falling further behind their peers. We want to do all we can to help break down the digital barriers so they can continue their education remotely.”
The initiative complements Vodafone’s efforts to support home-schooling, from donating 350,000 free data SIMs to schoolchildren and college students, to distributing refurbished smartphones and tablets to disadvantaged families through its Great British Tech Appeal.
Vodafone has also agreed to zero rate the government-backed Oak Academy online educational platform until the end of the school year, and is offering free and discounted access to several educational sites though its VeryMe rewards programme.
Around 9% of children in the UK – between 1.1 million and 1.8 million – primarily from low-income households, do not have access to a laptop, desktop or tablet at home, according to Ofcom.
Asda, working closely with Dell, expect to deliver the first shipment of laptops directly to schools next month with the remainder to follow in March. Each school will manage the distribution to priority pupils, and Asda’s in house IT support team will also provide support to any school that needs help to set up the equipment.
Dayne Turbitt, Senior Vice President and General Manager for Dell Technologies in the UK, said:
“Digital exclusion is a growing global and societal issue, which is significantly impacting the UK as a result of the most recent national lockdown. As a global technology company committed to driving human progress, we want to help support families across the UK with access to devices, connectivity and the critical tools needed to fully participate in remote learning. By working alongside Asda, we can help champion digital inclusion for young people across the country.”