Bridging Digital Gap for Children in Poverty with E-Learning:
Does ‘Recycled Computer for Poor Kids’ Enhance Better Life Chance for Children?
Yu-Cheung Wong (Department of Social Work & Social Administration, The University of Hong Kong) [BIO]
It is almost taken for granted that computer and internet access is available in households with students: in Asia, information and communication technologies (ICT) in education have been extensively applied in most education systems, from primary schools to tertiary institutes. However, this is not the case for a sizable number of children living in poverty. In fact, the lack of access to ICT at home has exacerbated the existing income divide, which has been growing fast in some parts of Asia, especially Hong Kong in recent years. To bridge the digital gap among students has been considered an important policy measure, not only to promote digital inclusion but also to avoid the widening gap of divide in educational outcome and thus limiting the chances of social mobility for children living in poverty. The Hong Kong Government has tried a number of measures such as sending out notebook computers right away to children living in poverty in 2003, and most recently in 2006, funding a territory-wide, large scale, computer recycling programme for this group of children. This paper presents the evaluation of the programme including the pattern of usage of the computer and free internet access at home and addresses whether the programme helps in improving the educational outcome. Views from both the children and parents are discussed.