Schools in Hong Kong closed their doors in early February in order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Overnight, the majority of learning went online – video calls became the norm and screen time replaced face time with teachers and peers. And while schools in the city are slowly reopening, online learning is becoming a fundamental pillar of education.
This hasn’t been a seamless transition for everyone, as accessibility to online learning isn’t equal across society.
‘Marginalised groups in Hong Kong lack a lot of information, and many either have broken laptops or poor internet connection in subdivided apartments,’ explains Jeffrey Andrews, a social worker with Christian Action and one of Cathay Pacific’s Changemakers 2019.
When Gloria Chow, Head of Inflight Customer Service & Operations for Inflight Service Delivery, learned of these struggles, she knew she had to do something. ‘I was in Sham Shui Po and I overheard a few kids discussing their worries of having to repeat a grade as they have no means to join distance learning,’ she explains.
To help families in need, Cathay Pacific refurbished and delivered 500 iPads for the purposes of helping Hong Kong’s underprivileged schoolkids.
The iPads were donated to several charities, including Project Care, the Hong Kong Society for Protection of Children and Christian Action, and have been distributed to parents ‘for their children’s educational needs and to enhance their technology skills’, explains Andrews.
Support from our Cathay Pacific staff – who gave guidance on using the iPads – helped to unlock the technology’s potential as a learning tool.
‘This wasn’t just a distribution project – we also had the chance to teach families about setup and basic usage,’ says Clara Cheung, from Corporate Affairs. ‘I’m glad I was able to do something worthwhile with my spare time and hope to support the community with more work in the future.’
Volunteers have also offered free homework tutorials to children in need, ensuring families are able to make the most of their connectivity. For Alex Fok, Assistant Manager, Corporate Affairs, it’s been a mutually beneficial programme. ‘I enjoyed talking to families in need and sharing my knowledge with them,’ he says. ‘Though I did give back to the community, I honestly feel like the community gave more to me.’