The Malta Independent 25 September 2020, Friday

Government to provide internet connection, laptops to students who lack technological resources

Giulia Magri Wednesday, 1 April 2020, 08:18 Last update: about 7 months ago

Students who don’t have access to a computer or internet connection at home will be receiving internet access free of charge from the government, Education and Employment Minister Owen Bonnici told The Malta Independent.

“We have spoken to headmasters of the government schools to provide us a list of those students who are part of Scheme 9, and who might not have the necessary resources, such as laptops or internet connection to follow lessons.”

Scheme 9 is a government scheme to help students facing socio-economic problems, such as being at risk of poverty or social exclusion and providing them aid to improve their education and quality of life. Bonnici spoke to this newsroom on how the government plans to continue providing support to those students, even during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have around 400 families on Scheme 9, and around half of them need internet access,” explained Bonnici. He said that those families will be provided with internet access immediately in the coming days. He mentioned that some students from Church Schools will also be receiving this support. He said that the Ministry has a Digital Literacy Unit, where the ministry will be utilising any spare computers or laptops for children who need them.

Bonnici also mentioned that under Scheme 9, students are provided lunch at school. “Now instead of at school, the food will be delivered to churches for certain residents and being delivered to families under this scheme,” said Bonnici. He thanked the Archdiocese for provided their support.

Teachers worried and concerned about students with no resources

This newsroom spoke to a number of educators who are aware that some of their students lack resources such as internet or laptops. “Out of my class of 10, I receive feedback from around three students,” explained a government secondary teacher. “I worry about these students, who might come from a family background where they have no internet, or else have old devices which make it hard for them to work on.”

Teachers highlighted that it is important to reach out to such students, especially if their parents work in the tourism sector, and therefore currently have no income. “Some of these students also used to come early to school as they were part of the breakfast club; so school for them was a place to learn but also to receive a meal, we are very worried about these students,” explained another teacher.

“Teachers are struggling to keep up with the workload, but we think about these students, especially so, as they might struggle to pick up once they go back to school in September. Now is the time to help them, not later.”

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