Labour accuses ministers of having ‘betrayed’ Scotland’s poorest students

Labour education spokesperson Pam Duncan-Glancy said ministers had ditched key commitments to tackle digital exclusion.

Labour accuses ministers of having ‘betrayed’ Scotland’s poorest students Getty Images

The Scottish Government had been accused of having betrayed the poorest students by “ditching” key policies aimed at tackling digital exclusion.

Labour said that ministers had abandoned a commitment, made in the SNP’s 2021 election manifesto, to provide every child in Scotland with “a device to get online, including a free internet connection and the support to use it”.

On the issue of “digital poverty” amongst students the same manifesto said that the lack of electronic devices and a connection to the internet “hinders too many students from less well-off backgrounds” – with the SNP pledging to tackle this with £5 million of funding a year.

However, Labour said a Freedom of Information response in February from the Scottish Government confirmed that this money is no longer being provided.

“As a result of budget pressures and the financial position, we were unable to provide a specific allocation in the 2024-25 SFC capital budget for digital inclusion, as in previous years,” the government said.

Pam Duncan-Glancy, Labour’s education spokesperson at Holyrood hit out and said: “This chaotic SNP Green government has betrayed the poorest students in Scotland by ditching its flagship policies for tackling digital exclusion.”

The Labour MSP spoke out on the issue after asking the government for an update on its plans to provide digital devices to pupils – noting that “the £13 million allocated for this has been identified as a necessary saving”.

Education Secretary Jenny Gilruth told her that “in order to maximise the impact of capital funding available, we will seek to provide support at a household level, targeting investment specifically at disadvantaged families with children”.

Ms Gilruth added that ministers “are currently in the early stages of scheme design” with Connecting Scotland digital inclusion scheme, with the Education Secretary pledging a further update on this work “in due course”

But Ms Duncan-Glancy said that “digital exclusion deprives people of opportunities and entrenches inequality”.

The Labour MSP added: “Ensuring everyone can get online is key to breaking the cycle of poverty and giving everyone a fair chance to learn.

“The SNP has taken a wrecking ball to its last manifesto, breaking promise after promise.”

She demanded: “With its pledges in tatters, the SNP Green government must set out a new plan to tackle digital exclusion in our education system and across society.”

The Scottish Government has been contacted for comment

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code
Posted in