…poverty in my own country, the UK.
What do you mean? Surely a prosperous country like the UK has no poverty? Well the statistics do not back it up with a fifth of all children living in poverty. They are the same kids whose parents have no options on which school to send their children let alone much aspiration of further education or university. And, to stick on-topic, these kids and their families are also the ones being bypassed by the digital revolution. For the great unspoken about digital is that it is creating a two nation country – those who can afford it and those who can’t.
Just take the kit. Broadband is around £25-£35 a month. A decent laptop comes in at £500. Such items sound pretty reasonable but people on the minimum wage, on benefits, even on one of the many low-paid jobs just cannot find this money. The apartheid extends to the workplace. However slow or awkward work computers can seem with their firewalls and restrictions, try being a travel agent or work in a call centre. Their employees do not allow access to the internet at work, only an intranet. So the people who would most benefit from exposure to the web at work are the least likely to enjoy it.
Why should the country take note? It is simple really. The web is at its best when it is collaborative, open and linked in – as I have repeated many times in this blog. How can it claim to be in this country if a quarter of the country is excluded? Among those may well be the Bill Gates or Kevin Roses of the future. So, let us remind Prime Minister Gordon Brown of his promise (before the recent financial meltdown) of his promise of £1billion to give a computer to every child. For without them, we are all poorer.
And now my colleagues
- Matt Parsons wrote about the Family Holiday Association
- Mark Turner asks what we can do about poverty today of all days?
- Rob Enslin writes about the impact of mobiles on the lives of poor Africans
- Anthony Hildebrand on Poverty and Security
- Grahame Morrison on Walking for Water