Nearly 250 students in Singapore will receive new laptops that can aid in their learning in an initiative rolled out by the United Overseas Bank (UOB) and its partners, including Singtel and Singapore Press Holdings (SPH).
A Covid-19 relief effort, UOB My Digital Space is a regional programme that aims to support students' digital learning as they are confined to their homes because of the pandemic.
Singapore is the first of six places to benefit from the programme. The online learning resources in the laptops provided to Singapore students include complimentary online subscriptions to The Straits Times and a vernacular newspaper of the students' choice, provided by SPH.
Singtel has also provided a Wi-Fi package while UOB is in the process of setting up an online resource centre where students can explore topics including art, sustainability, financial literacy and cyber security.
"Given the diverse cultures and languages in Asia, UOB is working with educational partners across the region to co-create content in multiple languages and to localise it for each market where the programme will be rolled out," UOB said recently.
Students from Brunei, China, Hong Kong and Malaysia will also benefit ultimately. A sixth location will be announced at a later date.
The laptops will be loaned to the students for a year, with an option to extend the duration depending on their needs.
UOB said it is working with its community partners and the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth's volunteer centres to identify students who most need the laptops in their learning.
The bank also worked with Morning Star Community Services, a charity here, to provide a Primary 4 pupil Mei Ling (not her real name) with a UOB digital learning kit.
Mr Wee Tai Seng, centre manager at Morning Star Community Services, said: "As part of our outreach to needy families within the community, we learnt from Mei Ling's grandmother and primary caregiver about the difficulties faced in her digital learning journey.
"The digital learning kit provided by UOB and its partners enables Mei Ling to tap digital learning and enrichment opportunities from home while staying connected virtually with our facilitators and her friends."
Madam Sufia Ahmad, 49, the mother of Nur Muliana Mamat, a Primary 2 pupil from Fuhua Primary School who also received a laptop, said it would help her daughter stay connected and keep up with her learning.
"Being the sole breadwinner of my family, I have to care for my four children as well as my husband who is in poor health. I'm grateful to be receiving support during this difficult time," she said.
UOB's deputy chairman and chief executive officer Wee Ee Cheong said the bank had a duty of care to the community.
"Covid-19 has brought with it disruption to school-based learning across Asia and this is being most keenly felt by children from disadvantaged backgrounds," he said.