Students have returned to the classroom and the home-learning period is done, for now, but the need for laptops to improve the access of vulnerable students to education remains.
Earlier this month, Ipswich City Council and the Ipswich Hospital Foundation (IHF) – with the support of Rotary Club of Ipswich City – launched Operation Education as part of the Ipswich Together program.
It was about supplying Year 11 and 12 students with laptops and/or the internet during COVID-19 and beyond.
Within 48 hours of the launch, the State Government announced an earlier than anticipated return to the classroom for students, which contributed to a perception across the city that these laptops were no longer needed.
While offers of donated laptops and tech expertise quickly dried up, requests for support did not, with a number of families, schools and community groups registering their needs with IHF.
Now, council and IHF have decided to widen the scope of the project to include any high school student in need, with a focus on children facing considerable hardship or disengagement from traditional schooling options.
YMCA Vocational School – Ipswich Head of Campus Charlie Thomson said the need was real.
“Access to laptops and other technological aids are important in ensuring that students develop in the wellbeing, academic and vocational areas of their lives,” he said.
“These resources have the potential to create long-term change and help break negative cycles of unemployment and a lack of educational opportunities for young people in our community.
“It has been rewarding to see different parts of the community come together and help others who are struggling during this time.”
Ipswich Deputy Mayor Marnie Doyle encouraged the community to get behind the initiative.
“I want to thank the community for the donations and offers of assistance so far and to remind them that despite home-learning coming to an early end, there are so many requests for learning support out there. We still need your laptops,” she said.
“With a bit of TLC, the unused laptops in many homes and businesses that have been gathering dust, could change the lives of so many young people.”
IHF CEO James Sturges said Operation Education would make a long-term difference in the education, health and wellbeing of whole families, not just high school students.
Deputy Mayor Marnie Doyle is urging the community to back Operation Education.
“One donated laptop will increase opportunities for learning, connection and wellbeing for everyone in the household,” he said.
“We desperately want to fulfil the very real requests we have received so far, but we cannot do it alone.”
As well as laptops, skilled IT staff are needed to help IHF volunteers clean and refurbish the donated devices.
Council will provide a venue for the work and IHF will manage the donation and clean-up process, with the Rotary Club of Ipswich City to manage provision of the laptops.
Operation Education encourages the community to:
- Donate unused laptops (preferably Wi-Fi enabled/can take a sim card) which will be cleaned and refurbished;
- Donate prepaid sim cards; and
- Volunteer time to help refurbish and distribute devices.
To register your interest in donating or volunteering, visit www.ihfoundation.org.au
Operation Education is a part of Ipswich City Council’s Ipswich Together program which was launched to help the community respond to and recover from COVID-19.