Free internet and computers will be given to a number of children who need them to be able to continue their studies online during the COVID-19 lockdown, the education minister said on Tuesday.

Owen Bonnici said that around 250 will benefit from free internet access, which will cost the ministry €40,000, and 250 computers, which will be loaned out until schools reopen.

“In our society, there are families that had been experiencing difficulties pre-COVID-19 and our schools were giving these children help. Now we would like to continue granting this help during these difficult times,” he said. 

In addition to that, he said the ministry had also started distributing daily free lunches to the homes of children who had been receiving them at school before the lockdown, due to financial hardship.

This service had also been extended to children attending Church schools who are also in need.

Bonnici implored any businesses or people to donate computers or laptops they are not using to the ministry.

“There are many families who have more than one child and simply do not have enough computers for each child to use,” he explained.

He said that the month’s pay he had forfeited had gone towards buying laptops for this very purpose and he appealed to others do the same.

The initiative providing free internet access and laptops to children will begin tomorrow and will last until the school lockdown is lifted.

Fielding questions from journalists about whether teachers from private schools were going to continue to be paid during the lockdown, like those at state schools were, Bonnici said that discussions were underway to find a middle ground among all parties.

A taskforce had been created to address such issues and independent schools are represented on it, he continued.

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