BOSTON (CBS) – Some 5 million school-age children do not have a broadband internet connection at home, according to the Pew Research Center.
The discrepancy is part of what educators call the “homework gap,” a barrier that students face when trying to complete homework assignments without a reliable internet connection at home.
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The Boston Public Library has been working for years to close that gap, not only by providing access to high speed internet, but with free help with homework.
“We have computers, and we have printers as well so a lot of the kids need to print something out for homework. Or upload something or check a class website and they are able to do that on our library computers totally free,” says Rachel Keeler, the children’s librarian at the library.
Keeler says “the computers are a really important part of what the kids need to get their homework completed.”
A number of organizations also working to give people internet access at home.
The FCC Lifeline Program provides a $9 discount for eligible low-income subscribers to broadband internet.
Verizon and Comcast are two of the companies that take part in the Boston area.
Comcast also provides a service called “Internet Essentials” which provides broadband internet with in-home WiFi for roughly $10 a month. It also offers discount laptop and desktop computers to those who qualify.
PCs for People aims to bridge the digital divide as well. By refurbishing computers from corporations they are able to either give computers away to eligible families, or provide them at an affordable cost.
PCs for People also provides high speed internet service for as low as $10 a month, with pre-paid plans.