US launches computer programme for poor kids

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced early this month announced a programme to offer low-income families discounted computers and affordable Internet services in an effort to narrow the digital divide. The city government together with Comcast Corp., Philadelphia-based internet service provider, will implement the programme aimed at “making Chicago the first city of its kind in the country to deal comprehensively with the digital divide,” Emanuel said.
He further said many children in Chicago are falling further behind in school because they don’t have computers at home.
“We will make sure every child has a chance to compete in the 21st century economy,” he stressed. Under the Internet Essentials programme, families of the 330,000 public school students can get vouchers from Comcast for US$150 each that will allow them to buy computers — some valued at up to US$500.
The programme likewise allows families with students to avail broadband Internet service for US$9.95 a month. There are no installation or activation fees and Comcast will also provide free computer training.
Emanuel said the city government along with the churches and non-profit agencies will ensure families will be informed about the programme before it starts in the fall.
He noted many only 15 to 45 per cent of households have Internet connections. James Martinez, a spokesman for the National PTA, said the programme addresses a growing problem around the nation, where computers and the Internet have taken on a larger, crucial role in classrooms.
“Families that can’t afford digital equipment, their kids (fall) back more and more,” Martinez said. “Statistics show an achievement gap when families aren’t able to afford technology … and this (Chicago’s program) helps close the digital divide between the haves and the have-nots.”

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12 June 2024

11 06 2024