The Tobun Foundation has announced the launch of a new initiative aiming to support 250,000 disadvantaged young people whose education has been impacted during the Covid-enforced lockdowns.
The Covid-19 ‘Educational Support Programme’ will provide computer equipment, tuition, and mentoring, to enable those most affected to catch up on lost learning as a result of the pandemic.
By partnering with schools and Saturday schools, the Foundation has committed to supporting secondary and primary school students by providing access to laptops to support home learning as well as providing internet access.
It will also provide 100% subsidised tutor sessions, as well as access to mentorship, academic motivation, and career development with new and existing partners.
According to the National Foundation for Educational Research, there has been a 46% widening of the learning gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers in 2020 as a direct consequence of the Covid-enforced lockdown.
In a separate study by the Education Policy Institute, disadvantaged children in England are already approximately 1.5 years behind their non-disadvantaged peers in terms of their academic attainment by the time they leave secondary school.
The disadvantaged attainment gap has intensified due to Covid-19, which has also amplified the digital divide young people from low-income families face in accessing online schooling.
Research from the University College London (UCL) Institute of Education also points to the fact that 97% of private school pupils have had access to a home computer and, by contrast, one in five pupils on free school meals have no access to a home computer.
The initiative, which includes an initial £100,000 donation from Tevin Tobun, CEO of GV Group, is being funded through The Tobun Foundation and partners providing in-kind support. By working with corporate partners, the Foundation aims to raise further funds to support its development.
The first programme is being implemented in London at Croydon Supplementary Education Project (CSEP), with further programmes being rolled out nationwide. To access the resources, schools and parents are being encouraged to apply for support directly through the foundation’s website.
The programme with CSEP, sees the Foundation offer maths, English, and science tuition for three days a week for pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds living in the area.
The foundation has previously offered funded scholarships to support disadvantaged students to attend university; the Covid-19 Educational Support Programme is an extension of this.
Tevin Tobun, CEO, GV Group (Gate Ventures) and founder of The Tobun Foundation, said: “I firmly believe that every child in this country has a right to an equal education. The Covid-enforced lockdowns have had a disproportionate impact on many disadvantaged young people who were already facing significant barriers to learning.
“It is incumbent on us to provide young people with a platform to support them to reach their desired goals and aspirations.
“The next generation are our Prime Ministers, doctors, nurses, and entrepreneurs and they will be shaping the country. We cannot afford to do them a disservice by not supporting them during this challenging period.
“While this initiative will not solve the long-term issues for education inequality, we hope that we will be able to help some young people be the best that they can be.”
Jacinth Martin, project manager, CSEP, added: “The Tobun Foundation has been vital in helping us continue to support young people during what is an incredibly difficult time for so many of them. The learning divide between young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and others is already a huge issue across the country. The pandemic has only exasperated this so it’s really important that we are all doing whatever we can to try to bridge this gap.”
K, a student from the Croydon programme, said: “It has helped me to widen my range of knowledge as during lockdown there wasn’t work for me to do or understand. It also helped me because when I went back to school, I can feel myself going down but it slowly pulled me back up again. I definitely want to continue with the programme.”
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