Published On: 12th December 2023

Bridging the Digital Divide around the world

The Access Foundation’s commitment to digital empowerment has taken a significant leap forward with the implementation of the first philanthropic effort to bridge the digital divide internationally.

Having donated £644,000 to digital inclusion projects in 2023, the Foundation’s pilot with unconnected.org is now proving to be a successful first foray in helping to alleviate digital poverty overseas.

Just a year and a half after launching, The Access Foundation donated £10,000 to unconnected.org in July 2023 to implement groundbreaking projects connecting community schools in Malaysia.

Three of these schools belong to Dignity For Children that now have meaningful access to suitable hardware such as tablets and laptops, digital skills training and internet connectivity for young refugees.

Dignity for Children is a non-governmental organization that provides holistic care and education for marginalised and urban poor children in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and is currently responding to the complex reality faced by those escaping conflicts and passing through their nation.

“Living in such backgrounds and families is never easy and their parents struggle financially and they also struggle financially.”

Xin Le Koh, Dignity For Children’s community classrooms coordinator said:

“Living in such backgrounds and families is never easy and their parents struggle financially and they also struggle financially. It is a lot of stress growing up in that environment, so those are one of the biggest challenges that we know that our students are going through, which is why we are not just emphasising that you have to score an A, but instead do you have the right support when you need support.”

For teachers leading the large-sized classrooms of up to 60 young refugees aged 3-14, who make-up over 80% of the students at Dignity For Children’s community classrooms, access to the devices enable them to encourage independent learning as part of their Montessori approach but also to focus their attentions on the specific needs of other young learners under their duty of care.

Notably, the project didn't stop at providing devices, and as such The Access Foundation and unconnected.org also spearheaded the installation of high-speed 5G internet in these community classrooms as well as software and digital training, which gives meaningful connection to youngsters facing economic challenges that they are likely not to have at home.

Though it is The Access Foundation’s first foreign foray into digital inclusion abroad it is by no means their first effort in the field, nor in Malaysia itself.

Some of their UK funding initiatives ranged from providing reconditioned laptops to organisations facilitating training programs to collaborating with charities on coding bootcamps tailored for underrepresented groups.