Laptops for Loan Initiative
Laptops for Loan Initiative
Meath County Council Library Service offers up to 900 laptops to help bridge the digital divide for fifth year students in Meath through the Laptops for Loan initiative, which is funded by Facebook.
Both Facebook, with it’s Clonee Data Centre in Meath, and the Meath County Council Library Service are committed to supporting students during this challenging time and are partnering to help students stay connected and continue their education from home.
The €809,100 donation will enable Meath Library Service to purchase nearly 900 laptops and wifi dongles which will support 50% of fifth year students and Leaving Certificate applied students who do not have digital devices to continue their studies from home. The laptops will also be made available for the wider community to use when restrictions are lifted in the future.
Students in Beaufort College, Navan have been recipients of the first of these laptops in June.
The initiative aims to address the digital divide compounded by the coronavirus outbreak which has caused disproportionate hardship on those students who are disadvantaged or marginalised. The ‘Laptop for Loan’ initiative has two phases. Phase 1 is aimed at students in Meath post-primary schools with 5th year students to be treated as a first priority. Phase 2 will see a laptop loan scheme rolled out to partner organisations, through the library service and to community groups for training purposes.
Meath County Council Library Service will provide the logistical support, procuring the laptops and delivering them directly to schools who will distribute them to those most affected by social and educational disadvantage. The laptops will be loaned to students who need them for the duration of the crisis. Students with no access to broadband in their home will be able to borrow a wifi dongle. On return, the hard drives will be securely wiped and reset.
Speaking about the donation Jackie Maguire, Meath County Council Chief Execitive said “For students to actively engage in remote learning they need access to a suitable device, such as a laptop, and good quality Internet access in their homes. We are delighted that Beaufort College students in Navan will be the first recipients of the laptop loan scheme with other schools receiving laptops soon after.”
Beaufort College Principal Angela Crowcock added “Our 5th year and Leaving Certificate Applied 1 Groups are the priority. They are ending year 1 of their two year senior cycle and have missed a lot of course work. There are 100 students in total and we are most grateful to be considered for the laptop loan initiative.”
Aoife Flynn, Community Engagement Development Manager at Facebook’s Clonee Data Centre added, ‘Meath is our home and we want to support people, especially young people, in their education. We know this period of school closures has been enormously difficult for all school students, but particularly those who do not have access to a suitable device at home for remote learning. The Meath Library service proposal was extremely impressive, and the scale of the need in the Leaving Cert cycle is evident. We hope this will have a positive impact for students and the wider community in Meath.”
Although a recent Sign of the Times survey suggests that laptop ownership in Ireland is high at 70%, students are competing for access with other siblings and parents working from home. Conversations with a number of post-primary schools in Meath indicate that student ownership of laptops may be as low as 20%. For longer assignments, projects, and essays, students need to use a laptop/desktop computer as typing on a mobile phone keyboard is awkward and slow, while downloading PDFs and Word documents can also be problematic due to space issues on phones.
For more details about the initiative contact Maedhbh Rogan McGann at email@example.com