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Press Release | 02 Mar 2021

Vodafone donation plugs connectivity gap for thousands more schoolchildren as focus turns to reopening of schools and education catch-up

Vodafone donation plugs connectivity gap for thousands more schoolchildren as focus turns to reopening of schools and education catch-up

Vodafone UK is also donating £200,000 to the Raspberry Pi Foundation so it can distribute 500 computer kits to disadvantaged young people.

  • Vodafone is donating 10,000 dongle devices to help children access online learning and catch-up classes from home.
  • It is also making a £200,000 donation to the Raspberry Pi Foundation to enable it to distribute 500 computer kits to disadvantaged young people.
  • The donations follow consultation with head teachers and education trusts who highlight the continuing need for connectivity to access online learning and catch-up classes.

Today, Vodafone announced it is donating 10,000 dongle devices to Business2Schools, which will distribute them to schools in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales*. Heads can give them to children who still lack the connectivity they need to access online learning and catch-up classes, which are likely to play a key role even as schools reopen from 8 March.

Vodafone also announced it has made a £200,000 donation to the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s ‘Learn at Home’ campaign. This donation will enable it to distribute 500 computer kits to disadvantaged young people and provide specialist training to youth workers so they can teach digital and coding skills.

Head teachers and education trusts report that while many schools have received laptops, a significant number of children still lack the connectivity they need to access online learning and catch-up classes. The donations follow Vodafone’s successful schools.connected programme which gave 350,000 SIM cards to 9,000 schools and colleges across the UK. Schools that received SIMs via the programme can pair them with the dongle devices**.

photo of a child plugging a Vodafone USB 4G dongle into a laptop
The Vodafone USB 4G dongles are easy to use with a laptop

Business2Schools is one of the fastest growing charities in the UK and is currently working to distribute thousands of laptops donated by businesses to schools that need them. To date, it hasn’t had access to dongles, which will help children with limited broadband access at home. More than 4,000 schools are already registered with Business2Schools.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has helped millions of young people learn at home by delivering direct-to-student learning experiences, supporting teachers to deliver remote lessons, providing online coding clubs and by getting computers into the hands of children who previously didn’t have one at home.

Ahmed Essam, CEO, Vodafone UK, said: “The pandemic has highlighted the tragedy of digital poverty and its impact on the most disadvantaged children and young people. As the education recovery mission begins, both face-to-face and online learning will be crucial, so it’s vitally important that every young person has access to connectivity.

“These donations will give thousands more children access to the internet and I’m delighted we’re working with specialists in tackling digital exclusion – Business2Schools and the Raspberry Pi Foundation – to deliver connectivity where it is needed most.”

close-up photo of a Vodafone 4G USB dongle inserted into a Windows laptop.

Lindsey Parslow, CEO, Business2Schools said: “We’re pleased that in addition to laptops, we can now provide Vodafone dongles to schools and children that need them. Many of the schools registered with us have already requested an allocation, highlighting the ongoing need for connectivity as well as devices.

“In addition to the obvious benefit of access to remote learning, the digital skills children gain by using tech in their day-to-day lives is invaluable. Any school that would like to register with Business2Schools can do so here.”

Philip Colligan, CEO of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, said: “Having a computer and connectivity to learn at home is transformational for young people. The pandemic has highlighted the digital divide that already existed and that will continue to hold back young people unless we solve it.

“Vodafone’s donation to our Learn at Home campaign allows us to provide Raspberry Pi computers for young people who need them the most, along with the support and training that makes sure they can use them to learn.”

This programme is being supported with a radio campaign in which Vodafone again asks the public to donate unwanted smartphones and tablets as part of its Great British Tech Appeal. Vodafone will cover the cost of postage and packing, add six months of free unlimited data connectivity, and send the devices to disadvantaged families via charity Barnardo’s.

Vodafone is also part of the Government’s Get Help With Technology programme to increase data allowances for children in need and is giving unlimited data to Vodafone customers who join the scheme. In addition, it has ‘zero rated’ the Department for Education-funded Oak National Academy so its customers can access the online resources and lessons without using up their data allowances.

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Notes to editors

*The dongle and MiFi donation from Vodafone is worth more than £200,000. The devices can be paired with a Pay As You Go data SIM, making it affordable for families to have flexible internet access. Schools that received SIMs via Vodafone’s schools.connected programme can pair those with the dongle and MiFi devices.

**There is now another opportunity for schools to apply for free SIMs thanks to the partnership between Vodafone and the Mail Force Computers for Kids initiative. Another 150,000 free data SIMs are available to order by schools and further education colleges here.

The Vodafone schools.connected programme was created to help pupils who struggle to access education from home because they don’t have the right connectivity. It distributed 350,000 SIM cards to more than 9,000 schools and colleges across the UK to share with their most disadvantaged children and young people. Each SIM came with 30GB of data valid for 90 days.

The Great British Tech Appeal is looking for any smartphone or tablet in working condition. Donating tech is simple, fast and free of charge. Complete a short online form to receive a donation kit with a flattened freepost box and pre-paid returns envelope. Devices can be posted at any post office or post box. Every device received via The Great British Tech Appeal will be data wiped[1], re-boxed with a cable and charger and redistributed with the help of charity partners. Recipients of a device will benefit from unlimited connectivity for six months. To date, almost 3,000 devices have been distributed to those most in need.

[1] Before donating a smartphone or tablet, we recommend that every device is reset to default factory settings to remove password and PIN data. Please also disable any ‘find my device’ functionality, such as Find My iPhone, or we won’t be able to process or donate your device.

About Business2Schools

Business2Schools takes the unwanted office furniture and technology from businesses and re-homes it in state schools across the UK; addressing key values around sustainability, climate change and the circular economy and ensuring that still-useful items are re-homed and re-used rather than recycled. It has already distributed more than 8,000 devices to schools during the pandemic. Schools benefit from better-quality infrastructure that upgrades classrooms and supports students’ aspirations. For more information visit www.business2schools.com.

About Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi Foundation is a UK-based charity that works to put the power of computing and digital making into the hands of people all over the world. We do this so that more people are able to harness the power of computing and digital technologies for work, to solve problems that matter to them, and to express themselves creatively. For more information visit: https://www.raspberrypi.org/about/

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About Vodafone UK

Vodafone UK is a technology communications company that connects people, businesses and devices to help our customers benefit from digital innovation. Our services span mobile, fixed line connections, home and office broadband, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

We have a strong track record as a tech pioneer, making the UK’s first mobile phone call, sending the first text message, and making the UK’s first live holographic call using 5G in 2018. We were also the first to start carrying live 5G traffic from a site in Salford, Greater Manchester. As of June 2021, we have 5G in 340 locations across Europe – 100 in the UK and 240 across Germany, Spain, Italy and Ireland. Our 4G network coverage currently reaches over 99% of the UK population.

Today, Vodafone serves more than 18 million mobile and fixed-line customers in the UK. To help deliver Gigabit UK, our full-fibre broadband roll-out programme now covers 15 UK towns and cities through partnerships with CityFibre and Openreach.

Sustainability is also at the heart of what we do: as of 1 July 2021, 100% of the grid electricity we use in the UK is certified to be from renewable sources.

For more information about Vodafone UK please visit: www.vodafone.co.uk.

Vodafone UK Media Relations

Telephone: +44 (0) 1635 693 693

Email: ukmediarelations@vodafone.com

Twitter: @VodafoneUKNews

Website: https://newscentre.vodafone.co.uk

Vodafone Limited

Registered Office: Vodafone House, The Connection, Newbury, Berkshire RG14 2FN

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