The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are strongly felt by children in rural areas, thus deepening the existing inequalities between them and urban students. In order to support them and facilitate their access to education, ECOTIC joins the Informal School of IT and the BCR which laid the foundations of the project “IT4Kids in rural areas".
The aim of this project is to improve access to modern education (including distance learning) for rural students, in the context of the pandemic of Coronavirus and the inability of children to attend school. The main objectives proposed by the initiators of the approach are (in a first phase) two important aspects: equipping schools in rural areas with computer equipment (computers, laptops, tablets, etc.) and adequate professional training of teachers in rural areas, by organizing and supporting "Introduction to IT" courses dedicated to this segment of teachers. The courses will be taught by volunteer mentors from the Informal IT School.
ECOTIC will support this project by preparing for the reuse, together with Atelierees without Borders, of 150 used laptops and computers (in a first stage), donated by BCR. ECOTIC and Workshops without borders they will recondition and equip laptops with operating systems, preparing them for use in schools.
“In order to be able to support Romania's technological development potential in an important hub in the region, we need to act from the grass, where there is the greatest need. The Romania Tech Nation program does not only involve large-scale projects, but also concrete actions to reduce the gap between urban and rural areas. We are glad that we were able to support the approach of the Informal IT School, especially in the context of the pandemic, which further limited children's access to education and technology. " says Ana-Maria Creţu, BCR Start-up Program Manager.
The equipment will be distributed in the territory through the Informal IT School, the Via Nova Domini association (from Dej), the Agapis foundation (from Zalau) and the “Stânca” Baptist Christian Church (from Sibiu), to several rural schools. from the counties Salaj, Sibiu and Cluj.
In addition, BCR Social Finance, donated 5 state-of-the-art Samsung tablets, which will be offered as prizes to students with the best learning outcomes from the Simion Bărnuțiu gymnasium school in Bocșa commune, Sălaj county.
"The initiative of the Informal School of IT and of BCR was very well received, both by teachers and students. It comes at the right time, when the need for the education system to use modern computing technology can no longer be denied by anyone.", Said Mrs. Adriana Florina Bârsan, director of the Simion Bărnuțiu middle school in Bocșa commune.
It is important to emphasize that this initiative has (for now) a limited applicability to only three counties, but this need is present and urgent in most rural schools in the country. As such, the initiators and partners in the project aim to seek concrete solutions in the future to improve the unfortunate gap created between rural and urban students, in terms of access to education.