Laptop initiative by UOB for children from low-income families a welcome relief to parents

SINGAPORE – An initiative from United Overseas Bank (UOB) has brought welcome relief to many parents like Rachel, who were worried about how their kids would cope when schools closed in April and home-based learning kicked in.

With eight schoolgoing children suddenly at home all the time and only one laptop, Rachel (not her real name), a 39-year-old widowed mum of nine, was afraid her children would fall behind.

“It was a very challenging time when the schools closed. We only had one laptop at home and it was overall quite tough for the kids,” she said.

However, the UOB programme proved a lifeline for Rachel and her family, providing them with two laptops through the UOB My Digital Space programme.

The scheme involves UOB giving out digital learning kits to students from low-income families in Singapore, Brunei, Hong Kong and Malaysia during the coronavirus pandemic.

This will eventually be expanded to include Indonesia and Thailand.

More than 560 kits have been distributed to students across the region, including about 250 here.

UOB has also partnered with Singtel and Singapore Press Holdings to help local students here by donating a Wi-Fi package and complimentary subscriptions to The Straits Times and a vernacular newspaper of the student’s choice as part of these digital learning kits.

The laptops are on loan to students for a year, with an option to extend depending on their needs.

An online resource centre is also made accessible, allowing students to learn about topics such as sustainability and cyber security beyond their school curriculum.

Rachel said the laptops were a relief: “They were a big help because it meant that there was no need for the kids to fight for their time with the laptop.”

Daughter Joy (not her real name), who is in Primary 1, said she enjoyed having lessons online, and did not want to go back to having to ask her eldest brother to use his laptop whenever she has home-based learning.

Besides this initiative, UOB has also raised more than $1.65 million from staff and customers for the UOB Heartbeat Covid-19 Relief Fund.

The fund helps 31 beneficiaries across the region.

In Singapore, it has been channelled into producing 500,000 3D-printed face shields for front-line healthcare workers at Tan Tock Seng Hospital and the National Centre for Infectious Diseases, as well as providing essential food supplies to nearly 900 families from disadvantaged backgrounds with school-going children for a year.

Ms Lilian Chong, executive director for UOB’s group strategic communications and brand, said the bank aims to distribute one million pieces of personal protective equipment to healthcare workers and those in need.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has and continues to affect the lives and livelihoods of people around the world,” she said.

“Given its far-reaching impact, we wanted to extend the reach of our corporate social responsibility programme, UOB Heartbeat, to help vulnerable communities in these trying times.”

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