Wednesday, April 22, 2020 - Telenet is putting its shoulders to the wheel in support of an initiative launched by DigitalForYouth.be to provide underprivileged pupils seeking opportunities for development with laptops so that they too will be able to take part in distance learning now that the schools are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At present, 9,000 usable laptops have been collected, but in order to help all these young people around 20,000 are needed. This is why Telenet has donated not only laptops but also at least €50,000 to DigitalForYouth.be and is also giving its employees an opportunity to lend a helping hand in preparing these laptops for use through the DigitalForYouth.be volunteer programme. ‘Not only will a laptop like this help these vulnerable young people during the pandemic; they will be able to benefit from this throughout their studies,’ explains CEO John Porter.
DigitalForYouth.be, a non-profit organisation founded by Close The Gap and DNS Belgium, started collecting used laptops and donating them to underprivileged young people who are seeking opportunities for development immediately after the COVID-19 outbreak in our country, with the support of the King Baudouin Foundation and various government agencies. A cry for help had reached the DigitalForYouth.be from various schools and umbrella organisations in education, revealing that many young people will lag behind in their studies during this pandemic as they are unable to participate in education offered digitally.
Telenet, which already helped educational institutes by making available public internet connections for underprivileged youth, has launched various initiatives in support of DigitalForYouth.be. The company donated 70 second-hand laptops and launched an internal fund-raising project that enabled all of its employees to donate part of their annual bonus to DigitalForYouth.be. A total of 50,000 euros has already been donated to the organisation. This money can be used for the purchase of refurbished laptops, which can currently be bought for around 100 to 250 euros apiece, or to prepare donated laptops for use. Removing data and installing the appropriate software costs about 100 euros per laptop.
Donation of annual bonus and volunteer work
‘At Telenet we are making every effort to help bridge the digital gap and strengthen the skills of vulnerable target groups. We can count on the support of our employees for this goal’, explains Ann Caluwaerts, Executive Vice-President People, Brand & Corporate Affairs at Telenet. ‘We have created a possibility for our staff to make a financial donation to DigitalForYouth.be through our bonus programme. They have until 22 April to make this choice, but they can also physically lend a helping hand to the non-profit organisation. Every Telenet employee is permitted to spend two paid days of work doing volunteer work for a number of organisations. This project has been added to this list for our people with a background in technology and IT, which will enable them to set to work on-site’, she concludes.
Permanent advantage throughout the school career
CEO John Porter has a soft spot for underprivileged youth who are seeking opportunities for their further development. ‘Not having access to digital communication tools has an immense social impact, and not in the least during this pandemic. Today, the digital gap is affecting many vulnerable people, including young people who do not have access to digital school applications at home and are therefore unable to participate in remote education and will therefore fall behind', explains Porter. ‘By contributing our stone’s worth to DigitalForYouth.be we will be able to alleviate this pressing shortage of laptops for these young people so that they will be able to continue their studies during the corona crisis. Of course, these laptops will also be an immense help to these young people when the schools reopen. Even after the pandemic has ended, access to digital tools will provide young people who wish to be successful in their studies with a significant advantage. Everyone should have the same digital opportunities. Not only will these young people be able to communicate better with their teachers; their parents will also remain better informed of school activities through the digital school applications and will perhaps even be able to enjoy digital parent-teacher contacts in the long term.’
The non-profit organisation is very pleased with Telenet’s efforts. ‘We are very grateful that Telenet is providing this project support on this scale’, says Philip Du Bois, Chairman of the Board of Directors of DigitalForYouth.be. ‘Through this offer, we will be able to help many young people take part in online education. The team of DigitalForYouth.be is making every possible effort to achieve the envisioned goal. We can be proud of having the chance to participate in such a wonderful project in these difficult times. Aside from this, we also believe that our efforts will benefit the digitisation of education.’
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