An online fundraiser has managed to raise more than $1,40,000 for two schoolgirls in the US who were photographed using a fast food restaurant’s free WiFi to do their homework. According to Unilad, the photograph of the girls went viral after it was shared by Instagram user Ms_mamie89. It shows the two girls sitting cross-legged in the parking lot of a Taco Bell outlet in California.
The girls were reportedly using Taco Bell’s free WiFi to complete schoolwork. Their photograph has struck a chord with the Internet, with many pointing out that it illustrated the digital divide in a world where many cannot afford a proper Internet connection. Amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, many schools have moved their classes online, highlighting this digital inequality even more.
“My mom sent me this picture today. These two young girls were looking for a place with WiFi to do their school work so they sat near Taco Bell to connect to the free WiFi,” wrote the Instagram user who shared the picture online. “A lot of us don’t have to worry about having a proper WiFi connection or a quiet place to work from home. Every student from preschool through college should have free access to reliable WiFi especially now.”
The picture has collected nearly 70,000 ‘likes’ since being posted last week.
According to The Californian, the two schoolgirls have since been identified as students of Salinas City Elementary School District – one of the largest districts in Monterey County. After their photograph went viral on social media, district officials provided an Internet hotspot to their family.
“Our district became aware of a post that is circulating on social media,” said Richard Gebin, public relations officer for the Salinas City Elementary School District (SCESD). “We immediately identified the students belonging to SCESD, and since then, have provided the family with a hotspot so that our students can safely access classroom instruction from home. We are aware of connectivity concerns and we have placed additional orders for hotspots to address the digital divide.”
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