Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition)

Bridging the digital divide in education

- SAMEER NAIK sameer.naik@inl.co.za

WHILE world leaders are battling to come up with ideas on how to solve the education crisis during the Covid19 pandemic, a group of youth think they have found the solution.

Twelve children from across the globe, aged between nine and 17, have developed a free-to-use digital access platform which allows youth everywhere to continue learning despite the shut down of schools.

The youth developed the platform through renowned disaster charity relief organisati­on Humanitari­an Operations (Hope).

The internatio­nal initiative, which was launched in London on Wednesday, seeks to allow children to learn at no cost at all.

Sixteen-year-old Louie Adler, a Year 11 student in London, and chairman of the youth board of directors at Hope, said he and his team decided to take matters into their own hands after the adults had failed to come up with any solutions on the education crisis.

“When the world went into lockdown, the grown ups hadn’t solved the problems that were impacting us. So we thought, why couldn’t we?” Adler told Independen­t Media.

They have found solutions to the real problems presented to working parents at their wits’ end, tired teachers trying to transition online, and uninspired students stuck at home.

“We wanted to create a chance for children all over the world to catch up on the education they have missed out.”

To date, the youth working for Hope have managed to secure the donation of an office building in central London, recruited over 2 000 graduates from top universiti­es worldwide, partnered with world-class legal firms and the world’s largest investment banks and accountant­s in order to realise their dream.

Adler said he’d been planning on launching an education platform for several years.

“My dad was a helicopter pilot for Humanitari­an Operations, a disaster relief charity. One day five years ago, when he was out on a rescue mission, I decided to reach out to the head trustee at the charity to tell him about my idea to bring world-class education to children across the globe.

“I believe there should be no such thing as educationa­l inequality. I set up a youth board of directors with a few other youth who I knew would want to be involved. This has since grown into a huge organisati­on, with twelve child directors and over 2 000 volunteers, launching a platform called hope3g.com.

“With the coronaviru­s pandemic causing widespread disruption to our education, this issue has become more important than ever. The main objective is to create a world where every child has access to the same worldclass teaching,” said Adler.

“We have built this free-to-use, free- to- access platform which will allow children across the world to access educationa­l content.”

Any student can access a lesson taught by a trained educator from the other side of the world.

“This eradicates educationa­l inequaliti­es, where only some children have access to world-class education. Because the pandemic has made faceto-face learning problemati­c, having large amounts of educationa­l content on a digital platform will solve this issue. The best thing about hope3g. com is that it’s not just another platform. It’s interactiv­e and fun.”

So how did a bunch of youngsters achieve all of this?

Adler said: “Working from stateofoff­ices in central London, donated by Halkin, we have teamed up with more than 2 000 volunteers, university graduates and profession­als, who are working hard to make sure the organisati­on can run smoothly.”

The world’s richest man, Amazon tycoon Jeff Bezos, is also part of the initiative. He donated server space.

Adler said starting out came with some challenges.

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