Rugby Star Helps Tackle Digital Exclusion for Pupils
Maro Itoje launches laptop drive to tackle growing digital divide caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
13:47 23 January 2021
Rugby star Maro Itoje has launched a laptop drive to help children with their home-schooling during Covid-19 lockdown. The move follows figures showing that many low-income families struggle to provide their children with broadband access and gadgets they need to learn at home.
The 26-year-old athlete wants to see computers and free broadband installed into the homes of the estimated 1.78million children locked out of online lessons. He said he has been inspired by Manchester United striker Rashford's campaign.
Itoje explains: ‘What Marcus has done has been amazing – continually holding the Government to account and being a voice for the most vulnerable children. For me, it is about getting the kids what they need, and anyway I can help do that I will.
‘The absolute priority right now is guaranteeing children have devices to learn. When they go back to school we need a review on access to laptops to support careers in a digitally-driven world.’
He said: ‘My parents constantly reinforced the importance of education – that if you work hard at school and get good grades you can create a better life for yourself. Now in this pandemic we are taking that away from the children who need it most...There is a digital divide that could have a big impact on the next generation.
‘There is a big disparity between the best schools and worst in normal times – and this will make it bigger.’ Last year, the Government promised to distribute devices to disadvantaged youngsters and has so far handed out 750,000 of a promised 1.3million.