Schools send out SOS asking for donations of old computers

Two teachers have issued an SOS to large firms planning an end-of-year upgrade of their IT systems in a bid to help out schools in need of good quality computers.

Trevor Collins, a teacher at Bandon Grammar School, and his colleague Darren Platts have set up a system to source second-hand computers from big business — and refurbish and donate them to schools.

The Dotie project ( ‘Donating Old Technology In Education’) is expected to make a big difference to schoolchildren in primary schools throughout the West Cork region — by Christmas, five schools in the Bandon area will have received a range of high-quality computer equipment through the project.

The programme hinges on the collection of old computers from large companies which are upgrading their IT systems, refurbishing them and reformatting the hard drives, before donating the equipment to schools who need it.

“We will gladly take monitors, units, keyboards and mice. We ensure that hard drives are cleared and clean as a matter of policy. We distribute the complete units to schools around West Cork. We have started in Bandon where, by Christmas, we will have donated computers to five schools. From there we plan to widen our remit to all of West Cork and to Cork City,” he said, adding that to date the project had collected 82 computers.

The idea of asking local firms and individuals for their old PCs and laptops came from a shortage of ICT equipment in local schools, he explained.

“As secondary school teachers who both teach computers and maintain the school ICT infrastructure, we have hands-on experience of making things work in the classroom. It is obvious that the best way to teach young people about the strengths and advantages of computers is to get young people familiar with computers from a very young age. Schools have restricted budgets and many companies and households change their computers every few years, so why not match up the two? If we can provide our youth with the correct skills and proper usage of computers, then we are preparing them for their future.”

Any old PC or laptop will do, said Mr Collins adding however that preferably, PCs would have a flat screen monitor, main terminal, keyboard, mouse and appropriate leads. “Any laptops will have both the laptop and quite importantly, the appropriate power leads.”

He urged companies who are planning to upgrade their IT systems to contact the DOTIE programme through the website address or email addresses (below) and appealed to schools in need of computers to apply for equipment through the website.

The duo are also launching a free schools ICT forum in Bandon Grammar School which is scheduled for Thursday, January 29, from 4pm to 5.30pm.

“This free forum is geared towards sharing best practice, resources and advice for primary school teachers who would like to find out more about making their schools computer system more effective,” said Mr Collins adding that information on how to book a place and submit some ideas for the forum is available on the website.

“We are sourcing, collecting, reformatting, programming and distributing the computers for free,” he declared.

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