Digitally excluded adult learners set for boost as Council secures more than 200 laptops

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Efforts to tackle the digital divide in Hackney have been boosted after 220 laptops were secured for adult learners this week. 

The Council’s funding bid of £113,000 from the Greater London Authority (GLA) was approved at Cabinet on Wednesday, March 17, meaning hundreds of residents who have been digitally excluded from adult learning courses will soon be able to take part. 

Cllr Carole Williams, Cabinet Member for Employment, Skills and Human Resources
The online approach to adult learning has been crucial as course leaders have adapted to the coronavirus pandemic, but the transition to virtual tutoring has exposed to the Council more explicitly the digital divide that exists in Hackney.

Our Adult Learning Service has been working with residents to enhance basic ICT skills, so that more people living in the borough can be digitally confident, which in turn gives them the tools to enrol onto virtual courses.
Cllr Carole Williams, Cabinet Member for Employment, Skills and Human Resources

In order to meet the criteria to receive a laptop, learners must be: 

  • A Hackney resident 
  • Enrolled on one of the adult learning courses delivered by the Council or one of the commissioned providers
  • Have no access to ICT equipment to start one of our courses
  • Or their only device is a smartphone
  • They are having to share a device with a family member 
  • Their device is broken and so they will be unable to carry out a course without a new device

Distribution of the laptops started today (Friday) with learners Gulay Akkurt and Sasha McKenzie receiving their new equipment from Cllr Williams and Mayor of Hackney, Philip Glanville at Hackney Town Hall. 

Gulay, who is studying English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), said: “I was really pleased when my tutor told me that I was going to receive this laptop. I think it will help me with my course and I’m excited to start using the equipment.”

While Sasha is determined to achieve and progress while studying English Functional Skills Level 2. 

Learners will receive virtual assistance to set up their equipment, as well as support through the Digital Buddies scheme and help for family members. 

Support for adult learners tallies with the work the Council is undertaking to address digital exclusion amongst young people.

As part of wider work to improve both connectivity and the affordability of broadband, the Council is working with providers to roll out faster, more reliable full-fibre connectivity across estates and community facilities. 

For more information contact your tutor or your training provider.