ITALY: Four students collaborate to help provide computers to families for distance learning
(MissionNewswire) Four 18-year-old students, two of whom attend Salesian schools in Milan, Italy, have started a project to help families have access to computers at home for distance learning. The website PC4U.tech was set up to handle both donations and requests for a computer.
The team is made up of Matteo Mainetti, a student from Leone XIII Institute, who deals with the project’s logistical aspect; Salesian students Emanuele Sacco, who works on the programming of the site, and Pietro Cappellini, who takes care of the graphics and design; and Jacopo Rangone, who is dedicated to the administrative part of the project and studies in England.
The idea first came to the students during the general lockdown period that was required when COVID-19 hit Italy. Many students could not follow their academic lessons remotely because they did not have a computer or a tablet at home. The four friends began to collect devices from those who donated them spontaneously.
Through the online platform, people have the opportunity to donate functioning devices or to request one, if needed. The initiative, which is free for all, is also aimed at companies that have obsolete devices that they can give away. Each device is collected at the donor’s home, reformatted by an expert in the sector, sanitized and loaded with a message from the donor to the recipient. Cappellini said, “In the end, we are not donating an instrument, but a door to knowledge.”
Sacco explained, “The numbers of those who are hungry for technology, even in Lombardy, remain high. More than 2,600 students, nearly 14 percent, do not have a computer, and have not been able to go to school in recent months.”
“A recent ISTAT survey says that 33.8 percent of Italian families do not have a computer or tablet at home, and 57 percent of the kids must share only one computer in the family,” added Sacco. “This problem goes beyond the need highlighted by COVID-19 and the lockdowns because schools increasingly are digital, and students will increasingly need technological supports to be able to study.”
The project has also received help from Microsoft, which is providing support for the activation of Microsoft Office A1, the edition dedicated to schools.
Italy, Europe’s third-largest economy, has close to 2 million children living in poverty, according to UNICEF. The poverty rate has risen in the wake of Europe’s economic crisis. Unemployment is at its highest level since the late 1970s with the overall jobless rate at 12.5 percent and youth unemployment as high as 41 percent.
According to UNICEF, a growing number of youth are living away from their families in temporary shelters and within government and charity programs because of inadequate support from or neglect by their families. Salesian programs work to combat these challenges by providing shelter, nutrition, education and workforce development services for youth in need.
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