Pandemic exposes a deep UK digital divide and makes online lessons challenging

Majid Othman is eighteen and hopes to study biochemical engineering in September, but confinement poses new challenges for her. One of the biggest is access to your virtual classroom. With a computer shared by three siblings, he could only attend part of his lessons. This affected their academic performance and mental health.

“It’s embarrassing because the teachers keep emailing me saying I’m late with my homework and stuff, but when I was in college I was never late with my homework. But really I’m not.”

This elementary school called Heath Mount, located in the center of Birmingham (UK), has become a beacon for low income families left behind in the digital age. Hafsha and Saleem Sheikh, a couple who brought computers to school, where they say they are worried about those who do not have access to technology.

Some of these communities are mired in poverty, and most of the parents do not have a good level of English. Hafsha Sheikh, the director of the electronic equipment company, said that literacy levels in this community are very low, and we immediately think about the impact of the epidemic, not only on children and their learning, but also on how parents deal with it. , SmartLyte.

The lockdowns exposed the deep digital divide that exists in the UK. It is estimated that 1.9 million households do not have access to the Internet and 11.9 million households lack the knowledge that the government considers necessary to connect. Here in central Birmingham, families have struggled, and many have had to choose whether to eat or pay for a data plan to go online.

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Access to online education is only one part of the digital divide. The government claims to have distributed 1.3 million electronic devices, but many underprivileged students are still waiting. With uncertainty over when schools will reopen in England, parents are under severe pressure to go online.

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