By Lim Su Yie (BAC Apprentice)
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to adjust to a new normal. Many of our everyday routines have shifted to survival mode. Certainly, it has laid bare deep inequities in our society, particularly with regards to access to quality education. While many of us are fairly equipped with the necessary tools and strategies to deal with these changes, many more, especially students with special needs and families living below the poverty line, have found such transitions very challenging.
The 1MiliionDevices campaign was launched with this in mind – to bridge the digital divide in education, and to ensure that every child has equal access to quality education.
On 20th October 2021, Team UPLIFT visited Madeline, a mother of a child with special needs. Madeline, who was at work, took time off from her busy schedule to speak to us, and to receive the Samsung tablet for her son, Justin.
Justin is a 12-year-old boy who was diagnosed with Down syndrome at birth. He is the only child in the family and is cared for by his parents. Madeline shared with us about Justin’s life on a daily basis, and the struggles they faced as a family during these hard times.
Justin, a student of SK Taman Midah 2, has been attending enrichment classes at Persatuan Kebajikan Anak-anak Istimewa Selangor (ORKIDS). When his classes shifted to online learning during the Covid pandemic, he was only able to attend virtual classes using his parents’ smartphone, which has limited functions. It was a grave inconvenience due to the size of the screen and the unsuitability of the device for such purpose, rendering his remote learning a challenge. In fact, he took a while to adjust to the transition, including accepting the fact that he only gets to see his teacher through a screen. It is an undeniable truth that children who rely on mobile phones rather than computers and laptops, may get only a second-best online learning experience.
To make matters worse, this family faced new worries when Justin’s father unexpectedly lost his job during the pandemic.Thus, the family’s source of income was severely impacted, and with this came the challenge of remote classes, posing an even greater learning obstacle.
Launched on 12th October 2021, 1MillionDevices is a nationwide campaign which aims to bridge this digital divide in education by equipping every marginalised school-going child with a digital device. And Justin is one of the many children who have been identified, and presented with a Samsung Tablet. We need to let families and children like Justin know that they are not alone in their struggles. We hope that this device will be able to ease the financial strain of Justin’s family’s, and that his learning journey can be improved.
Kids with special needs generally need more attention and care from their teachers and parents in their daily learning process. Now, with the new given device, Justin’s learning experience will significantly improve, with better access to online teachings. Madeline would also be able to have easier access to a vast array of educational resources and ideas for home learning, to better assist Justin in his studies.
As the saying goes: “Family is where life begins and love never ends.”
Giving is hard-wired into who we are as human beings — and not surprisingly, so is receiving. Most people like receiving things because it makes them feel connected, it makes them feel like a part of something bigger than themselves. Would you have guessed that people like giving for the very same reasons?
If you would like to give a disadvantaged child the right to education, and help us end digital poverty, visit https://1milliondevices.my/