IT4Kids in Rural Areas
IT4Kids in Rural Areas is a Romanian initiative, launched within the framework of the Romanian National Coalition for Digital Skills and Jobs. The initiative is managed and coordinated by the Informal School of IT. Other main stakeholders behind the project include: the Via Nova Domini Association, Agapis Foundation, Banca Comercială Română, and the 'Harul' Christian Baptist Church in Romania.
Launched in 2020, the initiative was presented as best practice during a webinar of the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition on successful approaches in addressing the challenges of the coronavirus crisis. IT4Kids in Rural Areas aims to tackle the low quality and availability of information technology (IT) education and infrastructure. To achieve this goal, the initiative provides training for teachers in rural areas, with a special focus on teachers, whose subjects are not connected to digital technology. It also makes IT equipment accessible and available by delivering hardware to local schools, especially to those impacted most by the COVID-19 situation and the shift to distanced learning. The initiative also aims to produce and increase the number of digitised teaching materials and launch actions, which aim to encourage teachers already gone through the programme to pass on IT skills to others.
The initiative is relatively new and does not have a dedicated website - instead, the IT4Kids educational programme can be accessed via the official website of the Informal School of IT in Romania. Its scalability largely depends on donations and volunteer engagement, and is therefore hard to evaluate yet. However, IT4Kids in Rural Areas succeeded in mobilising a variety of stakeholders from various areas, including education, finance, private sector and local religious institutions. In addition, important rural areas were reached at the first stage of the project with considerable results, especially in the context of 65% of Romanian schools being located in rural areas. IT4Kids in Rural Areas also brought considerable benefits to participating schools and teachers: more than 300 laptops and other IT devices were donated and distributed in schools in rural areas. In-person training courses were also held as part of the programme with more than 30 teachers-beneficiaries.