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Closing the Digital Divide May Take More Than Free Devices

A new program in Barcelona will flood one low-income neighborhood with technology training and resources designed to get residents up to speed online. 

More than a quarter of Barcelona’s children were unable to participate in online schooling during the pandemic because of a lack of devices or internet connections. 

More than a quarter of Barcelona’s children were unable to participate in online schooling during the pandemic because of a lack of devices or internet connections. 

Photographer: Miquel Llop/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Trinitat Nova is part of the Barcelona that visitors rarely see. Wedged between highways and the Catalan capital’s steep mountain backdrop, it’s one of the city’s poorest areas, a neighborhood of 1950s concrete apartment blocks built so badly that many have now fallen prey to the cement defect aluminosis.

The area’s other challenges are less visible but just as crippling. It’s at the forefront of Barcelona neighborhoods that have suffered particularly from a class-based digital divide, one that has grown ever more acute over the pandemic.