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The Context
In the current era of technology, having access to digital tools is essential to be able to participate in many areas of life. Yet, the issue of the digital divide persists worldwide, affecting all nations, including France. Even considering the latest advancements in information and communication technologies (ICTs), there are still noticeable gaps across age groups, social classes, and cultural backgrounds. These gaps can accentuate existing social inequalities and are an obstacle to the development of an inclusive and equitable society.

Particularly impacted by the digital divide are the elderly, who often have less experience with ICTs. In France, the age-related digital gap poses challenges for many seniors who struggle with using technology due to limited exposure or education. With the transition of many essential services and information to the internet, this divide can lead to feelings of isolation and alienation.

As well as age, social factors also contribute to the digital divide. Access to technology and the internet can be financially out of reach for individuals and communities with lower incomes. Consequently, these groups may find themselves left behind, unable to access vital resources or participate fully in societal activities.

Lastly, the divide in education is a significant obstacle to achieving digital inclusivity. Individuals from underprivileged backgrounds or with fewer educational opportunities may not have the necessary skills or means to utilize technology effectively. This can prevent certain groups from reaping the advantages of digital transformation, such as improved access to education and job prospects.

ST Foundation’s Presence in France
 Since its establishment in France in 2009, the Foundation has focused its efforts on delivering ICB courses tailored to specific groups, such as immigrants and job seekers, to enhance their societal engagement.

Over time, the Foundation’s initiatives broadened in scope, but the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic temporarily halted these programs. It was only towards the end of 2022 that the Foundation was able to restart its regular course offerings. There was also a concentrated effort to update the ICB manual to better reflect the local environment.

In 2023, the Foundation’s presence in France saw further growth with the introduction of two new DU labs, located in Tours and Chambéry, and there are plans to open new DU labs in various regions of France in 2024. A number of digital workshops aimed at young disadvantaged children were held in Grenoble in 2023 and more workshops of this kind are planned for 2024.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the Foundation in France launched several programs to tackle the increasingly evident digital divide, and these efforts are ongoing, particularly the donation of PCs. All the details are available in the dedicated section.

In 2023, the Foundation, in partnership with ST sites in France, generously provided close to 1000 computers, with more than 60% being allocated to educational institutions such as schools, colleges, and universities. The commitment to this cause will continue in 2024.