Mitcham and Morden MP urges government to close the “digital divide” for disadvantaged school students

Mitcham and Morden MP Siobhain McDonagh has written an open letter to the Prime Minister urging the government to provide internet and devices to children without them following school closures.

Primary and secondary schools have been closed to almost all students and learning moved online following the government’s announcement on January 4.

But research from Ofcom suggests that 9% of school age children in the UK do not have access to a laptop, desktop or tablet at home.

In addition, many children do not have internet access in their house

The letter has been signed by over fifty charities, unions and current members of parliament – including Harriet Harman, MP for Camberwell and Peckham, and Bell Ribeiro-Addy, MP for Streatham.

McDonagh said: “The internet has been a lifeline through the lockdowns, keeping us connected at a time when we have been forced apart. 

“But children on the wrong side of the digital divide have neither the data nor the devices to log in from home when their schools close. In a country with free state education, no child’s education should be dependent on their internet connection.”

The letter urges the government to ensure that every child is equipped with a device and an internet connection saying: “These pupils were likely to be behind their peers even before the pandemic. 

“After five months  of missed education, they returned to school further behind and now start that new year  facing weeks of even more missed education.”

 


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