Tag Archives: digital poverty

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].

The post Closing the digital divide with Raspberry Pi computers appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Distributing Raspberry Pi computers to help families access education

Post Syndicated from Olympia Brown original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/distributing-raspberry-pis-to-help-families-access-education/

The closure of schools has called attention to the digital divide, which sees poorer families struggling or unable to access education*. The coronavirus pandemic didn’t cause this divide, but it has highlighted it and its impact on many people in our society.

As our Foundation CEO Philip outlined back in April, part of our response to the pandemic and social distancing measures is to send free Raspberry Pi computers to students who currently lack the technology to complete their school work at home. Generously funded by the Bloomfield Trust, we have started to distribute Raspberry Pis in the UK.

Who is receiving Raspberry Pis?

Our approach for this initiative is to work with partner charities that help us identify the right recipients for the computers; we want them to go to young people who don’t have a suitable device for completing their schoolwork in their home.

The first partner charity we’ve been working with, whose team has been so patient as we’ve learned together how to do this, are the incredible School Home Support, a youth organisation working to improve school attendance, behaviour, and engagement in learning. With their help, we’ve so far distributed more than 120 Raspberry Pi 4 computers (with 2GB RAM), together with all the peripherals including a screen. School Home Support were also able to secure funding to provide high-speed internet access to the recipients’ home so students can reliably connect to their schools.

Families receive a Raspberry Pi Desktop Kit and a screen. Our partner charity funds reliable internet access.

How are we helping them set up?

The young people set up their Raspberry Pis themselves, and we have provide detailed instructions to guide them through this process. Most of the families have never used a computer like Raspberry Pi, so they need encouragement and support to get up and running. This is being provided both by the excellent School Home Support practitioners, and by Raspberry Pi team members, who answer questions when recipients get stuck.

“My mum was confused by the setup at first, but having a call to explain it really helped, and now we see how easy it is to set up and use.”

Raspberry Pi recipient

Recipients are already benefiting

Before receiving these computers, many of the young people only had occasional access to their parents’ phone to find out what school work had been set for them, and to complete it.

“It’s much easier to do my schoolwork now on the bigger screen. I feel like I’m learning more.”

Raspberry Pi recipient

A young girl sitting at a desk using a Raspberry Pi computer

We’re getting feedback that the Raspberry Pis help recipients focus on their work; they now have their own space to work in and more time to complete schoolwork, as they’re no longer rushing to share a device with other family members.

“I don’t always enjoy doing homework, but it’s better now that I have my own computer to do my work.”

Raspberry Pi recipient

Having a Raspberry Pi has increased the students’ motivation, and it has reduced stress — for parents as well as children:

“The Raspberry Pi kit came at a time when I really needed it. Up until that point, T had to do his homework and access the school’s home learning using my phone, which was not very practical at all. This was made worse by the fact that he had to share my phone with his sister, which ended up causing a lot of arguments. He was so pleased to receive a computer he could use. At first he had a lot of fun playing different games on it, and I was surprised about how well he was able to understand and help me set it up. The only negative was that he enjoyed playing games on it a bit too much! I feel relieved that he has his own computer which he can use. It was very stressful and frustrating having to use my mobile phone. There were times when T would be using my phone to do his work and he would be interrupted if I got a phone call, which meant that he would have to log in again, and sometimes would lose his work.”

Parent of a Raspberry Pi recipient

What are we doing next?

It’s wonderful to hear stories like this of how our computers make a difference in people’s lives. We’re still learning lots: while many families have been able to get up and running easily and quickly, others are still overwhelmed because they are unfamiliar with the device. We know we need to do more to build their confidence.

As we’re learning, we’re also talking to our next charity partners in the UK to help us identify more recipients, and to help the recipients get set up on their new Raspberry Pi devices.

If you are part of an organisation that could partner with us to support families in need of access to technology, please email us at [email protected]. Be aware that your organisation would need to fund the families’ internet access.


* The impact of the digital divide on students has for example been reported on by BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT and by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

The post Distributing Raspberry Pi computers to help families access education appeared first on Raspberry Pi.