Asda has today announced that it is working with Dell Technologies to provide 170 laptops to schools across Northern Ireland 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.
The supermarket has formed a partnership with technology provider Dell and is investing £2.0m so that every Asda store in the UK can donate at least 10 laptops to a school in need in their local community. Asda will donate 7,000 laptops to schools nationally, this includes 170 in NI.
Each laptop comes with a tech bundle that includes a headset and a mobile internet dongle with a data allowance of 20gb from Asda’s network partner Vodafone. The dongle and data allowance has been funded by a separate £500,000 contribution from the retailer’s charity arm, The Asda Foundation. Laptops will also include a one-year warranty and technical support.
Asda has launched this initiative to support schools in its 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.
Each Asda store in Northern Ireland will nominate a nearby primary or secondary school with a large proportion of families struggling to support home learning. Schools will be identified by the store’s Community Champions based on their existing partnerships through their community outreach programme. Asda’s Better Communities team will then review nominations using Government benchmarking data to ensure laptops are going to schools with the greatest need.
Asda, working closely with Dell Technologies, 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 UK.”
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 its support of schools with this important education initiative. 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.