COVID-19 has exposed how deep the digital divide is in our schools

MEDIA RELEASE 

27 May 2020 

 

COVID-19 reveals digital divide in schools 

 

‘Covid-19 has exposed how deep the digital divide is in our schools’, says Kate Wheller, Executive Office of Community Information and Support Victoria (CISVic). Many families are approaching CISVic member agencies in desperate need of devices and internet access, for home schooling and basic education.  

 

'Not all schools provide technology for learning and not all parents can afford to pay for it. said Claire Kartsidimas Branch Coordinator at one member agencyCommunity Information & Support Moreland. 

 

The impact of Covid-19 has exacerbated this problem however, it’s clear this is an ongoing issue. Research released todayThe Stress, The Strain & The Pain: The Impact of School Costs on Families and The CISVic Sector, reveals an ongoing tragedy in our state schools. Children are missing out on education and feel left out and inferior because their families cant pay escalating school costs. Some don’t want to go to school as a result. 

 

According to the survey by CISVic carried out from November 2019 to February 2020a staggering 84 per cent of families needed help because of school costs 

 

The school items people most often sought help with from CISVic member agencies were books, e-text books, e-bundles and stationery. Over one fifth (22%) needed help to pay for computersiPads and devices for school. CISVic is currently fundraising to provide 50 devices to disadvantaged students (https://www.givenow.com.au/schoolcosts). 

This fundraiser is part of #GivingTuesdayNow, a global campaign encouraging generosity, volunteering and gratitude. 

 

According to Kate Wheller: ‘this situation reached crisis point during COVID-19. Remote learning highlighted the situation of so many students who are missing out on the education we take for granted, just because their families cannot pay for internet access, devices and other activities and materials. She said: ‘The current situation has placed a spotlight on the magnitude of the problem, with so many school children severely disadvantaged, and this won’t go away as kids return to school’. 

 

Sixty per cent of people with dependent children said their children had been negatively affected by unaffordable educational expensesOne said their child was ‘unable to go on camps and struggled with homework as they had no iPad or computer’. Another said their child failed because they had no text books. 

 

Many described how their children are socially excluded or even humiliated in front of their peers when their parents cannot pay for education costs and activities. 

 

One said: ‘They don't like to go to school because they have missed out on excursions and camps and don't have the right laptop and iPad’. Others spoke of their child feeling sad and left out when they don’t have the right things for school and to do their homework.  

 

Some spoke of their children missing school as a result. One said her children have missed a lot of school, and socially it has kept them back’. 

 

According to Kate Wheller this situation is unacceptable, especially as education is meant to be free and accessible for all childrenShe said When children have equal access to a good education, they not only flourish but the whole community benefits. 

 

CISVic is the peak body representing local community information and support services. These services assist people experiencing personal and financial difficulties by providing information, referral and support, including emergency relief. CISVic delivers over $2 million of emergency relief annually to people in need. 

 

CISVic is currently fundraising to get 50 devices to children in needhttps://www.givenow.com.au/schoolcosts] 

 

For more information or for media comment please contact Kate WhellerExecutive Officer, Community Information & Support Victoria (CISVic) at kate@cisvic.org.au, or phone 9672 2000 0407 670 125.