Sarker Hope Foundation Helps With Access to Technology
Local community group The Sarker Hope Foundation continued its tablet distribution campaign to local students over the weekend.
Five local primary and secondary students were awarded brand-new tablets to make their online learning experience easier and more accessible.
The organization has worked for over a year to help those most affected by the pandemic in Parc-Extension. They have organized food drives for those in need, transport services for the elderly and public outreach surrounding issues related to COVID-19.
The event was part of a series that make up a campaign to provide 500 tablets to students. The objective is to bridge the gap of access to technology in Parc-Extension.
Although the program is concentrated towards Parc-Extension residents, it is open to anyone in Montreal.
Need for technology
This initiative was undertaken after the foundation conducted a survey among Parc-Extension residents which demonstrated that many households did not have sufficient access to the devices needed for children to attend online classes.
“When we did the survey, we found they[schools] get lots of kids that don’t have a computer,” said Zamal Nasser, coordinator at the Sarker Hope Foundation, adding that “this is a big problem for the kids; the parents can’t afford that.”
The survey further found that many children were either borrowing computers from the school on a short-term basis or sharing a device between many family members, complicating the ability to do schoolwork for many.
In addition to the foundations’ volunteers, the event was attended by the city councillor for Parc-Extension Mary Deros as well as the newly announced borough mayoral candidate for Ensemble Montréal Guillaume Lavoie.
For the love of science
“If she’s doing homework at home, the laptop is very slow, slow, slow and broken,” said Quratulain Islam, one of the student’s mothers, adding the new tablet was “going to be helpful.”
“Since the third grade I’ve always loved science,” said her daughter who is in grade 7 and preferred not to be named. “It’s difficult for me but I love to study it, so it makes it easy,” she added.
But what the high school student found most difficult was the technology she was previously using. “We have to be in front of a screen all day. Sometimes it doesn’t work and it’s really frustrating,” she said of her old computer, underlining that the tablet would help her academic career.
She looks forward to continuing her studies in science and technology once she goes to CEGEP and university.
Help in learning French
For Dilijot Singh, a 6th grader at École Barclay, the tablet means that it will be easier for him to follow in his online classes. Singh will be going to Lucien-Pagé next year and loves mathematics and reading.
He said that the new tablet will be a huge upgrade for his learning and truly help him out. “It will help me speak with my friends in Teams,” said Singh about the online learning platform he is currently using.
“It helps with French and English, to watch videos and to learn French,” he added.
Inclusive and transparent approach
For Mary Deros, the variety of services the Sarker Hope Foundation provides plays a very important role in the community.
“With the few that they did, they really did those families a service,” said Deros of the program, further commending their inclusive and transparent approach with the schools in finding which students needed aid the most.
Deros recently helped the organization by donating $500 to the program. She also announced at the ceremony on Saturday that she would be open to bolster her donation and contribute another $500 of her discretionary budget.
“They do a lot for the families of Parc-Ex, and I’m very grateful,” said Deros, adding that their good work encouraged her to become a “proud donor to their organization. I recognize the good that they do.”
This is a feeling that is also shared by Guillaume Lavoie, the newest candidate for Ensemble Montréal in the borough mayoral race for Villeray—Saint-Michel—Parc-Extension.
Lavoie commended the role organizations like the Sarker Hope Foundation play in society. “Even though it’s not done by the city, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t mean that it’s not important,” he said, adding the city should help these groups “do what they do best.”
Lavoie also said he was happy to see the positive values promoted by the program being transmitted to the children. “They have to demonstrate their motivation, their will to succeed,” he said of students, adding “it’s something that I greatly admire.”
“I’m in awe of seeing an organization that is out to do good, but also to instill right values,” he concluded.
The Sarker Hope Foundation will continue to pursue its tablet distribution events in order to successfully reach the largest number of students in the city.
The eligibility of students is based on their family’s individual needs as well as their lack of access to the adequate technology needed to attend virtual lessons.
Although the program is currently closed to new applications, they will open the second round of applications in September. Anyone interested in the program is encouraged to contact the Sarker Hope Foundation.