A new £250,000 programme has been launched as part of an ongoing effort to digitally connect people who are not yet online, people who are experiencing the most barriers to participation.
The Digital Inclusion Fund will be used to facilitate the purchase of laptops, tablets and adaptive assistive technology in order to promote digital inclusion and connectivity, and is open to organisations working with community based learners.
Covid-19 has highlighted the stark digital divide that exists in Scotland.
As part of wider digital inclusion efforts, the Scottish Government and the CLD sector have been working to address the digital divide for community based learners.
YouthLink Scotland, WEA and LEAD Scotland will work together with their networks to reach those who could benefit most from support to access digital equipment and the internet.
Richard Lochhead, Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, said: “The Scottish Government is committed to doing everything we can to help bridge the digital divide”.
“I hope this £250,000 Digital Fund being created by YouthLink Scotland will go some way in helping hundreds of young adult learners have the means to digitally connect, feeling able to participate in online learning and access the services they need to support them to reach their ambitions.”
Tim Frew, CEO YouthLink Scotland, welcomed the fund, adding: “All steps to mitigate the impact of coronavirus are very welcome. This fund will address the digital barriers faced by many young learners in the community and promote digital inclusion. We are delighted to be working with CLD partners, Lead Scotland and WEA in getting this resource to where the need is greatest.”
Ray McCowan, Director, WEA Scotland, said: “WEA Scotland is delighted to be working with YouthLink Scotland, LEAD Scotland and Scottish Government to address the challenges of digital poverty. This fund will enable prospective learners to access the resources they need to participate in the many digital learning opportunities currently available, improve their engagement to the wider community and make a vast difference to many individuals and their families across Scotland.”
Emma Whitelock, CEO Lead Scotland, said: “COVID-19 brings the digital divide and associated digital poverty sharply into focus. This fund will provide accessible technology and support for many community-based disabled learners across Scotland to be able to connect, flourish and progress. We are delighted to be part of this partnership effort with YouthLink Scotland and WEA Scotland.”
Individuals receiving devices and practitioners supporting people with new digital devices may be interested in our new OpenLearn create course Everyday Computer Skills: a Beginner’s Guide to Computers, Tablets, Mobile Phones and Accessibility. Click on this link to find more information about the course.