We're investing £2 million to provide 7,000 Dell laptops and tech packages 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.
Our community champions, like Anne Hodkin from our Huddersfield store (pictured above), will nominate a nearby primary or secondary school that have a large proportion of families struggling to support home learning to receive at least 10 laptops. The chosen schools will be based on existing partnerships through the stores' community outreach programme.
Thanks to an additional £500,000 contribution from our charitable arm, the Asda Foundation, each laptop will have a tech bundle including a headset and a mobile internet dongle with a data allowance of 20GB from our network partner Vodafone. Laptops will also include a one-year warranty and technical support.
We've launched this initiative to support schools in our local communities that are struggling with digital exclusion. According to Ofcom, around 9% of children in the UK – between 1.1 million and 1.8 million – do not have access to a laptop, desktop or tablet at home.
These children are primarily from disadvantaged backgrounds and at risk of falling further behind with their education.
Our Better Communities team will review nominations using Government benchmarking data to ensure laptops are going to schools with the greatest need.
Working closely with Dell Technologies, we 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.
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.”
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.”
Asda and Dell Technologies are providing schools with brand new laptops built with best-in-class durability that makes them ideal for young learners. Dell Technologies’ education devices are used by schools, colleges and universities across the UK and its products are designed to support learning, whether that is in the classroom or in a virtual environment.
The support provided from the Asda Foundation is an extension of their ongoing support of schools.
During the Autumn 2020 term, the Asda Foundation awarded more than half a million pounds to hundreds of schools to ensure children could get back into the classroom. This included providing grants for everything from stationery to school uniform banks, breakfast clubs and more, to ensure no child felt excluded due to financial limitations.
With the move to home learning set to continue, this support will go some way to meet the increasing need for access to devices and data.