A Fife man has eased the burden of home schooling for 150 families by refurbishing obsolete laptops.
Mike Saint made a public appeal for donations of old and unused computers a month ago in the hope he would get a handful he could update and give to people who couldn’t afford their own.
However, in just four weeks, Mike has already refurbished more than 150 old laptops at his home in Limekilns, converting them into Chromebooks free of charge.
The initiative has proved so successful, he is now working on the project full time and has vowed to continue for as long as there is a demand.
The former commercial driver, who went back to study business psychology as a mature student at 51 and is now studying for a PHD, said he started the scheme to stop children who didn’t have access to a home computer from falling behind in their education during the pandemic.
“I put out an appeal for old PC donations on local social media hoping to get maybe half a dozen but the thing has just snowballed and now that word has got about I’ve been inundated with machines,” Mike said.
“It’s only as a mature student in later life that I’ve come to understand the power and the importance of education and wanted to do something that would help kids from slipping through the net during these difficult times.
“Many families either don’t have the money to fork out on an expensive laptop to do school work online or have only one device that has to be shared between four or five siblings.”
Mike uses a programme which cleans the laptops and turns them into Chromebooks which use open source software. The switch allows pupils to access the Glow system favoured by schools for remote learning.
“As long as they have a camera we can reuse them and even those that don’t can be used for spare parts,” said Mike.
“We accept every single donation and even those that are beyond repair are ethically recycled without having to go to landfill.”
Despite licencing and other regulations preventing Fife Council from distributing the refurbished PCs, the authority has supported Mike’s initiative liaising with families who may want to benefit.
Angela Logue, head of education and children’s services said: “So far 4,639 new devices and 1,300 reconfigured school devices have now been distributed to children and young people to support remote learning.
“All offers of support with equipment are very welcome and we thank all those who are trying to help.
“Unfortunately we cannot directly accept donations of refurbished devices due to the licensing requirements, electrical testing and support required for the upkeep of these devices.
“However, we can route the offer through our schools to parents and carers who might want to take advantage of these offers.”
To learn more about the initiative, or to make donation email Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org