Free internet for over 400 students from vulnerable groups

The initiative “Digital Serbia” is announcing that all three mobile operators, members of this non-profit organisation, are providing five gigabytes of free internet monthly, till the end of the year, for students from 424 socially vulnerable families. Recognising that these students are in especially inequitable position at the times of physical distancing and distance learning, companies Telekom Serbia, Telenor and Vip mobile will jointly help them catch up with their peers.

The idea for this form of support to students from vulnerable groups came from the Initiative “Digital Serbia” and was instantly embraced by all three operators.

On that occasion, Filip Banković, Technology Executive Director of Telekom Serbia, stressed that one of the important roles of the educational process is that it enables social mobility, which is why it is of crucial importance for the social status not to represent an obstacle to equal access to education. “Quite certainly, on the global level also, the pandemic just accelerated the process of greater reliance on digital tools in education, so that this initiative is coming at the right moment, when we need to make a new breakthrough,” said Banković.

Filip Banković, Telekom Srbija

This action includes households in 28 towns and municipalities all over Serbia – from Bečej in the North, to Bujanovac in the South and from Čajetina in the West to Knjaževac in the East of the country. In each of 424 households there is at least one student with access to a mobile device, having no Internet until now.

Saša Leković, CTO in Telenor, pointed out that the period behind us, when everything shifted to the online world, showed that physical distance doesn’t necessarily mean social distance, if we are connected over the internet. “We are glad that this time too we were able to respond to the invitation of the Initiative “Digital Serbia” and make these challenging times, we are living in, a bit easier for a large number of families in our country”, stressed Leković.

Saša Leković, Telenor

During the epidemic, all three mobile operators enabled for compulsory education to remain free during emergency situation in our country in every sense of the word. As school instruction, apart from TV, also moved to the Internet, all three companies stopped charging traffic on the largest educational internet platforms, such as Moja škola or a portal for learning programming Petlja.

Nenad Zeljković, VIP Mobile

Pointing out that it’s a pleasure to show readiness, through yet another initiative and together with other operators, to help students use digital tools in their education without problem, Senior Technology Director in company Vip mobile Nenad Zeljković, added: “Telecommunications today represent one of the pillar of the society’s development and we are pleased, as members of “Digital Serbia”, to contribute to its development also through such socially responsible projects.”

Initiative “Digital Serbia” has identified households that will be supported through this drive, with major help of the Children’s Foundation Pestalozzi and CIP — Centre for Interactive Pedagogy. Other partner organisations of the civil society also gave significant contribution to this initiative. Pestalozzi joined this action as an organisation which, based on the analysis of students’ and schools’ needs, procured hundreds of tablets, printers and other required materials.

“This is a small fragment of the problem we are solving, but the contribution is not negligible when we speak of placing primary and secondary schools students from socially vulnerable families in an equitable position with their peers — especially at times when internet is an imperative in the education of every young man. This action, we have joined in with pleasure, together with the organisation CIP — Centre for Interactive Pedagogy, is a significant addition to daily efforts of all organisations and institutions cooperating with us”, concluded Slavica Kijevčanin, Director of the Country Office of the Swiss Children’s Foundation Pestalozzi.

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