Closing the digital divide with Raspberry Pi computers

Post Syndicated from Philip Colligan original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/closing-the-digital-divide-with-raspberry-pi-computers/

One of the harsh lessons we learned last year was that far too many young people still don’t have a computer for learning at home. There has always been a digital divide; the pandemic has just put it centre-stage. The good news is that the cost of solving this problem is now trivial compared to the cost of allowing it to persist.

A young person receives a Raspberry Pi kit to learn at home

Removing price as a barrier to anyone owning a computer was part of the founding mission of Raspberry Pi, which is why we so work hard to make sure that Raspberry Pi computers are as low-cost as possible for everyone, all of the time. We saw an incredible rise in the numbers of people — particularly young people — using Raspberry Pi computers as their main desktop PC during the lockdown, helped by the timely arrival of the fabulous Raspberry Pi 400.

Supporting the most vulnerable young people

As part of our response to the pandemic, the Raspberry Pi Foundation teamed up with UK Youth and a network of grassroots youth and community organisations to get Raspberry Pi desktop kits (with monitors, webcams, and headphones) into the hands of disadvantaged young people across the UK. These were young people who didn’t qualify for the government laptop scheme and who otherwise didn’t have a computer to learn at home.

A young person receives a Raspberry Pi kit to learn at home

This wasn’t just about shipping hardware (that’s the easy bit). We trained youth workers and teachers, and we worked closely with families to make sure that they could set up and use the computers. We did a huge amount of work to make sure that the educational platforms and apps they needed worked out of the box, and we provided a customised operating system image with free educational resources and enhanced parental controls.

A screenshot of a video call gallery with 23 participants
One of our training calls for the adults who will be supporting young people and families to use the Raspberry Pi kits

The impact has been immediate: young people engaging with learning; parents who reported positive changes in their children’s attitude and behaviour; youth and social workers who have deepened their relationship with families, enabling them to provide better support.

You can read more about the impact we’re having in the evaluation report for the first phases of the programme, which we published last week.

Thank you to our supporters

After a successful pilot programme generously funded by the Bloomfield Trust, we launched the Learn at Home fundraising campaign in December, inviting businesses and individuals to donate money to enable us to expand the programme. I am absolutely thrilled that more than 70 organisations and individuals have so far donated an incredible £900,000 and we are on track to deliver our 5000th Raspberry Pi kit in March.

Two young girls unpack a computer display
Thanks to Gillas Lane Primary Academy for collecting some wonderful photos and quotes illustrating the impact our computers are having!

While the pandemic shone a bright spotlight onto the digital divide, this isn’t just a problem while we are in lockdown. We’ve known for a long time that having a computer to learn at home can be transformational for any young person.

If you would like to get involved in helping us make sure that every young person has access to a computer to learn at home, we’d love to hear from you. Find out more details on our website, or email us at [email protected].

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