The covid-19 pandemic has shown that Belgium is still racked by digital inequality. Lockdown raised general awareness of the great digital inequality in the country. Many young people without access to a laptop found it hard to keep up their studies. Not only because they could not complete their assignments or access learning resources, but also because they lost contact with their teachers, from one day to the next.
bpost turns decibels into laptops for DigitalForYouth.be
In response, DigitalForYouth.be, an NPO set up by DNS Belgium and Close the Gap in 2019, launched a major campaign at the end of March to encourage businesses to donate laptops for distribution to young people in digital need.
The campaign was a great success, with almost 15,000 laptops collected within two months. After assessment, some 13,000 laptops were found to have good enough specs.
bpost group aims to bring people closer together and make a big contribution to Belgian society through contemporary learning experiences.
That’s why 26,000 Belgian bpost employees from across the country did their bit by applauding and generally making a din to show their support for society during the pandemic. For every decibel generated an amount was donated to DigitalForYouth.be – via the bpost Literacy fund, managed by the King Baudouin Foundation - to support the NPO’s efforts to create a more inclusive digital society.
Philip Du Bois, chair of DigitalForYouth.be, said: “The wave of solidarity that was generated exceeded our expectations. We are enormously grateful for the massive support, which has enabled us to give a laptop to 13,000 young people. The financial support we have received from bpost covers the logistic costs of collecting and preparing the laptops. Thank you to everyone who warm-heartedly supported this campaign!”
Jean-Paul Van Avermaet, CEO of bpost Group, said: “bpost and DigitalForYouth.be share common values of solidarity, proximity and inclusion. These values are not empty words for our company and our people. The enthusiasm of all employees while taking part in the “Make some noise” campaign on 26 June is another example of that. People clapped, played musical instruments, sang... They made a racket at every site to help young people stay in contact with their school. The official presentation of this cheque is a source of pride for every bpost group employee.”
Nico Cools, CIO and Chief Digital Officer of bpost Group, said: “One of bpost group’s most pleasurable missions is bringing people closer together. So we are delighted to support the DigitalForYouth.be project, which has a direct social impact on young people. By giving young people a laptop we help bridge the digital divide to some degree and we bring them into closer contact with their school. In doing so, we ensure continuity of education for everyone, which benefits emancipation and equal opportunities. Sustainable development has always been very important for bpost group, which is why we chose an ecological project this time too: every fixed-up laptop saves 18.5 kg of CO2, which works out at a total reduction of more than 4600 kg of CO2 for all 250 laptops”.
Connecting student, school and society with a laptop
But DigitalForYouth.be does not only support Belgian schools. Since 2009, the NPO has been supplying laptops to organisations that work on a daily basis to bridge the digital divide in Belgium through its PC Solidarity calls, in association with the King Baudouin Foundation.
Another 800 laptops were given away this summer to help young people enhance their digital skills. It also launched a second campaign to supply 4,000 laptops to students in Wallonia.