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Working with Computer Aid to reduce technological inequalities in a sustainable way

Working with Computer Aid to reduce technological inequalities in a sustainable way

08 November 2021

In 2016, we began working with Computer Aid in their efforts to reduce technological inequalities across the world. Since their founding in 1997, Computer Aid have provided access to technology to over 14.5 million people and continue to strive for a world where everyone has access to technology through environmentally responsible solutions. This mission not only aligns with our own—to make knowledge and learning more accessible through the power of technology—but also with our commitment to substantially reduce our impact on the environment as a responsible publisher. 

Our latest report, ‘Addressing the Deepening Digital Divide’, highlighted that poor digital access was the biggest barrier to digital learning, cited by 68% of the teachers who took part in our research. Computer Aid recognizes that technology has become a necessity for education, allowing for young people to continue their education through online learning resources. That’s why they focus on providing access to low-cost computers and software for non-profit organizations, ensuring that their projects are placed in areas where they will have the biggest impact. In addition to this, Computer Aid train teachers in ICT skills to improve their confidence in teaching—an area identified of equal importance in OUP’s latest report, with 56% of teachers saying that the problem of access was compounded by a lack of digital competency.

To date, OUP has donated a total of 3,769 pieces of equipment to Computer Aid, including computing equipment and devices such as printers, mobile phones, and peripherals. Our donations have spanned over six continents and 41 countries—with most equipment being donated from our offices in the UK, India, and Hong Kong—and the reuse of equipment has prevented 53,296kg of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere through e-waste.

This year, a total of 346 items of equipment donated by OUP have been sent to non-profit organizations and educational institutions both in the UK and abroad, including monitors, laptops, and desktops. Any equipment that was unable to be reused was sustainably recycled with any income generated used to help fund Computer Aid's work and cover the costs of logistics and labour.

One of the beneficiaries of this donation was the Rwanda Digital Schools project, which supports eight secondary schools across Kigali by providing fully-functioning ICT suites and digital skills training for teachers in areas such as Word Processing, Spreadsheets, and Presentations. Equipment from OUP currently accounts for 78% of all desktop computers installed across the schools. Meanwhile, Pangbourne Primary School in the UK received 20 laptops from OUP through Computer Aid, which were given to vulnerable children who were unable to access learning from home following school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, they were able to join their peers in remote learning.

Speaking about our work with Computer Aid, Richard Adams, Head of End User Services, said ‘We’re extremely proud to work alongside Computer Aid to help provide access to technology for those who need it most. We know that the digital divide has deepened due to the pandemic, particularly in education, and at OUP we’re committed to doing our part in addressing the issue. That’s why it’s so important that we work with charitable organizations whose mission and values align with our own, both in terms of working to ensure education and research are accessible to everyone, and reducing our own carbon footprint on the environment.’

Michael Shacalis, Impact & Reporting Manager at Computer Aid, said: ‘OUP’s continued commitment to sustainable IT reuse is creating tangible changes by providing technological infrastructure to educational institutions who lack it, whilst reducing e-waste and its detrimental effects on the planet.’