Launceston grandmother Donna Kupsch didn't think she would make a very good teacher, but it was not her skills that she was worried about.
Ms Kupsch said what she was most worried about was a computer, or more, the lack of one in her household.
Home-schooling during the pandemic exposed an uncomfortable divide between families who had access to devices and data to make the transition and those who did not.
Ms Kupsch said she was formerly in the latter category and was anxious about how she would make ends meet, pay her bills, and find hundreds of spare dollars to buy a computer for her grandchildren to use.
"We didn't have a computer, and I was going to have to find the money somewhere, but we really couldn't afford it.
"It caused me a lot of anxiety, I didn't even know how I would go as a teacher but knowing we didn't have a computer worried me."
Ms Kupsch has legal guardianship of her daughter's four children after her daughter Jessica was murdered by her former partner in 2012.
She said she never thought her role as a grandmother would transform into something more akin to motherhood for her grandchildren but did her best to make ends meet.
However, paying off her own home and paying for groceries, power and water bills, among other things, meant the family doesn't have extra money for expensive items like computers.
"They all have phones, but the screens were way too small for them to do any work on, they couldn't see anything," Ms Kupsch said.
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Ms Kupsch said the issue for her family was compounded further with the closures of services such as the library, which is where they may have accessed a device and the internet previously.
Thankfully, The Smith Family came to Ms Kupsch's rescue and secured her a device for her granddaughter to use, who is on a scholarship with the not-for-profit organisation.
Mrs Kupsch said she had initially reached out to the school to access a device, but they didn't have one available, but they had anticipated the lack of devices by providing at-home printed packs.
IMPACT OF THE DIGITAL DIVIDE
The Smith Family Tasmania general manager Lesley McKay said Ms Kupsch's situation was not uncommon, but the coronavirus pandemic had exacerbated an existing divide among Tasmanian households.
"COVID-19 forced us all to scramble and go back home, but the situation is, that many families did not have enough devices to go around if you have more than one child learning at home, as well as two parents who are also trying to do their work from home," Ms McKay said.
A national report, the Australian Digital Inclusion Index, which is commissioned annually by the Australian Government, shows Tasmania is ranked last out of all the states and territories for digital inclusion.
The digital inclusion report, or the digital divide as it's also known, ranks states and territories on device access, technology and data allowance.
Tasmania's digital inclusion score for 2019 only rose 1.2 points and has not kept up with the national average.
The gap between Tasmania and mainland states is also widening, despite the gap between the mainland states narrowing.
"Tasmania experienced four years of digital inclusion stagnation between 2014 and 2017," the report read.
"It was, therefore, remarkable that between 2017 and 2018 Tasmania's score increased 6.8 points (from 50.1 in 2017 to 56.9 in 2018). Detailed analysis of this improvement in the 2018 report revealed a major increase in access underpinned it" due to the roll-out of the NBN.
Since the roll-out completed there had not been any significant gains for Tasmania across the indices.
The Tasmanian Government has released a draft adult education policy, which touches on the issue of digital inclusion in education, but the policy is still in its draft stages and is seeking input.
Mrs Kupsch said she couldn't thank The Smith Family enough, for working with her children and providing them with scholarships and access to a range of their other literacy and numeracy programs.
"It just gives me so much peace of mind that I don't have to worry about their education," she said.
She said The Smith Family connected with her family when her children were in primary school, thanks to the referral of a teacher and they had been supporting them ever since.
"They help us out with school expenses but also through their programs, the scholarships and the literacy program," she said.
The Smith Family runs a buddy literacy program, where students match with a buddy to help each other read. They also run after-school learning clubs, but due to gathering restrictions, they are on hiatus.
What you see is there is an association between digital inclusion and outcomes with regard to education and employment. How digitally inclusive you are has a massive impact on how employable you are.The Smith Family Tasmania general manager Lesley McKay
ASSUMPTION LEADS TO DISADVANTAGE
Ms McKay said during the pandemic response, governments, schools and employers assumed that transition to working from home or learning from home would be easy.
While that was true for some, it was not a universal experience, she said.
As students transition back to on-campus learning, and workers headed back to the office, Mrs McKay said now was the time for governments and other powers to address this cycle of disadvantage.
"What you see is there is an association between digital inclusion and outcomes concerning education and employment. How digitally inclusive you have an impact on how employable you are," Mrs McKay said.
Printed learning packs were the way Ms Kupsch's school addressed the problem of the digital divide among its school community, and while it did help, it did not go far enough to bridge the gap, she said.
"Once we had the computer we found out that you weren't accessing all the material in the printed packs. It would help you to get started, and you could do some of the work, but the rest was completed online."
The Smith Family wants the digital divide addressed and basic levels of access given to all students, regardless of disadvantaged.
Ms McKay said they were lobbying for three distinctive measures: for every disadvantaged student to have an internet-connected device, for students to have access to appropriate tech-support and for families to have access to secure and reliable broadband internet.
She said now was the best time to address the cycle of disadvantage for future generations of students.