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Laptop scheme to help digitally disadvantaged pupils

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School pupils in exam years will be able to borrow laptops and get help accessing the internet as part of a new scheme launched this week. 

The E-Learning Pupil Access Subscription Service (E-PASS) will help pupils whose education was affected when schools closed due to the health emergency. 

The service is being funded using a charitable donation from the Scheinberg family, who set up the Scheinberg Relief Fund in March 2020, to help tackle the direct impact of COVID-19. 

The fund supports initiatives and charitable organisations in a number of countries where the family has a personal or business presence, including the Isle of Man. 

The service will mean pupils who are studying towards their GCSE or A-level exams, and are eligible for free school meals, will be able to borrow a new laptop and a router to connect it to the internet. 

Dr Alex Allinson MHK, Minister of Education, Sport and Culture, said:

‘I am really pleased that the E-PASS scheme will help digitally disadvantaged pupils. We are very grateful to the Scheinberg family, whose donation has enabled us to pilot the lending of brand new devices, which may pave the way for further provision in the future.’ 

The closure of most schools on the Island in March meant pupils studying towards their exams lost out on three months of face-to-face lessons. The unprecedented situation also highlighted the fact that some pupils did not have access to the internet or a device to allow them to study from home. 

It is hoped the scheme will give these students an opportunity to catch up and the ability to continue their studies from home should schools close again. 

The scheme is being piloted in all five secondary schools, who will be in touch with eligible families over the coming weeks.