A social enterprise has lashed out at the state government for failing to provide up to 1500 promised computers for needy schoolkids.
A social enterprise has lashed out at the state government for failing to provide up to 1500 promised computers for needy schoolkids.

Anger over lack of laptops for kids in crisis

A SOCIAL enterprise has lashed out at the state government for failing to provide up to 1500 promised computers for needy schoolkids.

Substation 33, based in Logan, said the Education Department had promised 5000 computers to needy students in March but had only handed out 3500.

Substation 33 founder Tony Sharp said his venture, which recycles old computer parts to build new computers, had worked around the clock to hand out 350 rebooted computers in Logan in the past six weeks.

"The state offered 5000 computers but only handed out 3500, which means 1500 are sitting in a cupboard while kids are missing out," Mr Sharp said.

"It's not good enough and is a massive problem which is widening the digital divide between the haves and the have-nots.

"Even if 5000 were distributed that's nowhere near what is required.

"There are campuses in Logan with 4000 students and half don't have computers - so that is one school where there are 2000 computers needed now."

Harry Green, 15, of Jimboomba with his refurbished computer. Kayla Poulter and Jesse Pullen are part of the Substation 33 team of volunteer computer technicians building computers for Queensland kids in need. Photographer: Liam Kidston
Harry Green, 15, of Jimboomba with his refurbished computer. Kayla Poulter and Jesse Pullen are part of the Substation 33 team of volunteer computer technicians building computers for Queensland kids in need. Photographer: Liam Kidston

In March, the Education Department sold laptops to schools at half price so students could borrow them during the coronavirus lockdown.

But since students had returned to classrooms and had to hand back all borrowed laptops, Mr Sharp said there had been an increase in requests for his reconstructed computers.

Mr Sharp said many families realised the disadvantage of not having a computer, internet or a device after the borrowed laptops were returned.

The Education Department said laptops had been given to all schools which had asked for them but schools could still request the remaining devices.

Harry Green, 15, of Jimboomba received one of Substation 33's $100 reconstructed computers so he could work from home during the coronavirus.

Without the computer, he would not have been able to attend classes.

Ella Misisa of Slacks Creek did not have a computer in March and got one from Substation 33 for $100.
Ella Misisa of Slacks Creek did not have a computer in March and got one from Substation 33 for $100.

Ella Misisa of Slacks Creek also received a refurbished computer from Substation 33 so she could learn from home.

Logan mum Angela Richter said she was angry the state had not made it widely known laptops were available from schools for less fortunate students.

"My children don't need a laptop but I know three who do and should have had access week ago," she said.

Originally published as Anger over laptops for needy kids



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