By Donal McMahon
AN urgent laptop home schooling initiative has been generated by Newry Chamber of Commerce and Trade this week with a hope of as many local children as possible set to benefit from a community based education support programme.
The Covid-19 pandemic has witnesses unprecedented times for everyone with millions of people working from home and that includes the young minds of school children facing a sudden lockdown on face to face education.
The detrimental effects have seen the cancellation of key milestone exams such as GCSEs and A-Levels this academic year as well as the closure of schools for most children of all ages.
The modern era of education weighs heavily on technology with the use of laptops and the internet, though many homes in the greater Newry area do not have the key elements to provide the support for home schooling that is required.
Setting out details of the initiative, chief executive of Newry Chamber of Commerce and Trade, Colm Shannon told the Newry Democrat that local schools and their pupils needed an immediate response from the business community in pandemic technology appeal.
“The business community in Newry has an excellent relationship with local schools,” said Mr Shannon.
“With the new lockdown restrictions, our schools are faced with the very difficult challenge of organising home schooling.
“Not all children have access to personal computers, which makes the challenge of home schooling more difficult,” he added.
The CEO of the chamber explained that the laptop for schooling initiative had looked into an upgrading loophole that could now open the door to a recycling of computers for the young school children of Newry who would otherwise fall by the wayside as timetable for the end of remote education becomes more uncertain.
“The chamber has reached out to the business community to see what support is available,” said the chief executive.
“From time-to-time businesses need to upgrade their laptops and many of the older laptops may be suitable for a pupil to use from home.
“We have also been approached with the offer of support to buy laptops.
“If it is easier to make a financial donation, the chamber can purchase laptops on the company’s behalf or they can be purchased directly by the company.
“We are pleased to have secured preferential prices with two of our members, Newry Computer Centre, and AMI LTD, through their retail site refreshedbyus.com.
“If businesses want to donate laptops they no longer need, it is important they are in good working order and have been cleaned of all personal and commercial data.
“AMI can also arrange for the laptops to be professional cleansed.
“This initiative may not help every school and every child, but we hope it will be a small step to support our children’s education at this difficult time,” added Mr Shannon.
Any business that would like to help, either by making a financial donation or providing laptops, should get in contact with the Newry Chamber of Commerce and Trade by email on: email@example.com.