Persevering in school: when success is connected to reducing the digital divide

Brigitte Samson

In today’s world, smartphones, tablets, computers and other technological devices are omnipresent.  Now considered indispensable by many, these devices allow instantaneous access to all kinds of information, 24/7. This incontestable reality is present for youngsters in school where uses are multiple. Whether it be to complete an assignment, use an application, follow an on-line class, or communicate with teachers these technological tools are an integral part of their daily lives. It is therefore hard to imagine that in this digital world, there are thousands of families living in a large city like Montreal, that do not have access to these tools, or worse yet, do no have an adequate connection to the Internet, essential for succeeding at school.

Exacerbated by the pandemic, inflation and the housing crisis, it is understandable that for a family with limited economic means. the cost of a computer, tablet or even an Internet connection is just too much to add to the monthly budget. Unfortunately, this is often the case for some 4,300 families living in low-rent housing managed by the Office municipal d’habitation de Montréal (OMHM). With an annual income of less than $ 20,000  this is a ‘luxury’ that many families cannot afford.

According to the most recent statistics compiled by the OMHM, only 53 % of households have home Internet access connected to a computer. Difficult in this situation for the nearly 10,000 youth under 25 years old living in OMHM housing to do their homework at home, to attend on-line courses or have access to research tools and various software. Difficult also to communicate with friends, access social media or receive emails from school.

When persevering at school is influenced by the Internet

It is understandable that being deprived of technological tools, during a pandemic, had a negative impact on many young people’s efforts to persevere at school. When access to classes is compromised and the presence of a labour shortage results in attractive work conditions, an additional salary will contribute to a family being able to meet monthly demands. These two factors accentuate the risks of dropping out of school. The Fondation La Clé understands this dynamic and works actively to make a difference.

The Foundation’s mission is to help young people living in OMHM housing to persevere in their studies and to reach their full potential. To accomplish this, the Foundation awards perserverance scholarships, finances community organizations working with these young people as well as a wide range of sports and cultural activities helping them to reach their full potential. A new project, Reducing the digital divide. has been initiated to provide additional support to these students

One might believe that access to the Internet is an acquired right, but this is far from the reality in Montreal’s most underprivileged neighbourhoods. A young person’s neighbourhood or socioeconomic situation should not define them or prevent them from attaining their dreams.  It is with the conviction that every youth deserves access to the most appropriate and efficient tools to succeed in school that Fondation La Clé is committed to facilitate access to adequate Internet service for hundreds of families living in OMHM housing, thereby offering these youth improved learning conditions, for which they are in such great need.

Brigitte Samson, Chair of the Board of Directors

Fondation La Clé

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© 2021 Copyright, Tous droits réservés, Fondation La Clé