Challenges students from low-income families in Hong Kong are facing during COVID-19

Coping with COVID-19 has been a challenge for some of Hong Kong’s underprivileged students, many of which have no access to a computer or internet at a time when schools have transitioned to e-learning.

Through various stages of the pandemic, school districts and the Education Bureau in Hong Kong suspended classes to keep students safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19. During this time, the immediate solution was to replace traditional teaching methods with online learning, exposing the harsh reality of how access to the online world and e-learning is far from universal.

The move to e-learning prompted by city-wide school closures has highlighted the troubling technology divide among children from lower-income families who lack access to the resources they need, which can lead to long-term academic disadvantages. An open letter published in the SCMP pointed out that, despite the Community Care Fund implementing an assistance program to subsidise devices for needy younger students in public schools, there is still a considerable number of reported cases of underprivileged students still lacking suitable learning devices, holding them back from advancing academically.

Schools have worked hard to equalise the socioeconomic playing field by providing students with libraries, computer facilities, social opportunities with other children and more. Equal access to these resources gives children in need a path to a better future, like opportunities for jobs with higher earnings. For many students, continuing their studies from home is a safer and more convenient solution. Still, for children from low-income families, e-learning has proven to be a challenge, because they cannot afford computers or access to a stable internet connection.

What can we do to help bridge the digital divide?

As our battle with COVID-19 continues, more and more aspects of our lives will be shifted into the digital space. And as the pandemic continues to transform the way we navigate our day-to-day routine, the digital divide will only grow wider if we don’t act now to prevent the gap from growing larger down the road. To build a more inclusive and sustainable education system for all, we can help by donating laptops or computers (that are in good condition) as an immediate relief to the issue.

Want to help but not sure where you can donate?

There are a variety of trustworthy organisations across HK. GoodCity is an app run by Crossroads Foundation, an experienced charity that has helped facilitate the donation of goods and those in need since 1995.

Funded by the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust since 2018, GoodCity has made sure that donated goods from all over Hong Kong have helped more than 300 non-profit organisations as of May 2020, benefiting more than 150,000 people in need.

To donate your goods, simply use the app to submit clear pictures of the item you want to donate. A member of our volunteer team will review your item and make a decision based on the status, demand, quantity, etc. before letting you know whether your goods can help others.

GoodCity also provides a variety of logistics options, letting you choose a suitable transportation method for your donated goods. You can book a commercial van immediately from within our app, or if you’ve got your own transport, you can book a time to drop your items off at our headquarters in Tuen Mun.