Call to Bridge the Digital Divide

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At least 1 in 4 school-age children in the UK today lack home access to a computer and the Internet for their studies.

Estelle Morris, chair of the e-Learning Foundation has launched EQUITY (Equal Opportunities In IT For Young People), a nationwide campaign developed to eliminate the educational disadvantage the digital divide is creating for over 2 million school-age children in the UK today.

The EQUITY campaign is the result of a collaboration between five of the UK’s leading educational organizations, including the e-Learning Foundation, British Education Suppliers Association (BESA), National College for Schools Leadership (NCSL), Specialist Schools Trust (SST) and the Times Educational Supplement (TES).

EQUITY aims to increase awareness amongst schools of the practical steps they can take to address the digital divide. And it provides all other organizations with a framework within which they can pledge their support and become an approved campaigner.

“I am delighted to be involved in the Digital Divide campaign. It aims to ensure that every school is made aware of what steps it can take to address the digital divide as it affects local children, and provides a range of opportunities for ICT suppliers, government agencies, charities and other organizations to make a contribution. To achieve the maximum impact, we need a wide range of organizations to participate and make a contribution. Together we really can make a difference to the lives of our young people,” commented Estelle Morris.

While schools are better equipped than ever before, the variation in the quality of learning that takes place at home is huge. And as children only spend 15% of their lives at school, the learning that takes place at home is extremely important to their future success. Good access to ICT (Information and Communications Technology) at home has been proven to significantly influence educational outcomes. Yet low income families are five times less likely to own a home computer than high income families.

EQUITY is working to heighten the awareness of this digital divide and is actively encouraging participation in resolving this issue by schools, Government, industry, opinion leaders and the third sector.

Companies and individuals can support the Digital Divide Campaign by making a donation to the e-Learning Foundation’s Digital Divide Fund for use to support local projects helping the most disadvantaged children have equal access to IT for their learning at home.

Founder sponsors of the EQUITY campaign, who have committed to supporting the fight against the digital divide are Microsoft, Granada Learning and Crick Software. Toshiba is the first company to pledge support to the campaign as an Approved Campaigner. They are all authorized to use the official EQUITY logo.

A campaign website has been set up for anyone who would like to take part in the campaign – http://www.equitycampaign.com – alongside the launch of a charity wrist band, which is available to participating schools.

e-learning Foundation: an educational charity, founded in 2001, whose mission is to ensure that every schoolchild in the UK has access to technology in the home.

British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA): is a trade association whose members include manufacturers and distributors of equipment, materials,books, consumables, furniture, technology, ICT hardware and digital content – all to the education market.

The National College for School Leadership (NCSL): provides career-long learning and development opportunities, professional and practical support for England’s existing and aspiring school leaders.

The Specialist Schools Trust (SST): is the lead body for the Government's specialist schools program.

Times Educational Supplement (TES): The UK’s leading educational newspaper.

Information source: *Family Spending; a report on the 2003-2004 Expenditure and Food Survey; National Statistics

Photography and campaign logo available on request.

For more information about this scheme and the e-Learning Foundation, contact: Jan Howells on 01372 824509

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Jan Howells