a girl working on a laptop

Charleroi earmarks almost half a million euros to reduce the digital divide at school

Charleroi earmarks almost half a million euros to reduce the digital divide at school

Some 1600 pupils will get financial aid for new devices and internet connection so they can learn from home

The City Council of Charleroi agreed on Monday to provide 450,000 euros for the digital equipment of local pupils. The money will be distributed as complementary or total financial aid for the purchase of equipment or internet services to the pupils who need it the most. By doing this, the Belgian city wants to create better conditions for children to study at home amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Wallonia aims at one device connected to the internet for each pupil

Back in March, when the coronavirus pandemic firmly set foot on European soil, schools were forced to close doors and switch to distance learning. This required the system to adapt very quickly to ensure the continuity of the education process. Wallonia – the French-speaking region of Belgium – was no exception.

At that moment, the digital divide, existing even in developed western societies, became more apparent. The health crisis underlined existing inequalities and clearly illustrated how without a suitable device or internet connection some households could be literally excluded from the educational process.

Realizing that the health crisis is far from over, the City of Charleroi wanted to be better prepared this school year. More precisely, the local government voted on 26 October in favour of a subsidy aimed to fight the three major causes of the digital divide: the lack of equipment, internet connection at home or the lack of digital skills.

In this case, focus will be on the material side of the problem and the action falls within the 1:1 strategy of Wallonia, to provide each teacher and student with a laptop, notebook or tablet, for continued use in the classroom and at home. The city launched a call for projects open to classes at primary schools (years four, five, six) and secondary schools (years one and two) from lower economic backgrounds.

An overall budget of 450,000 euros will therefore equip the winning classes. Around 1600 students are expected to benefit with 250 euros per pupil in primary school and 350 for those in secondary school. The financial aid will be distributed in the form of a voucher for part of the purchase or the entirety of a purchase of equipment, to be used in one of the city’s partner shops or for internet service fees.

Applications are accepted before 20 November and the winners will be notified on 2 December. The selection will try to ensure that the action reaches the pupils who need it the most and that the devices are truly and effectively used for educational purposes.



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