Free smartphone project under fire: ‘get a paper round’ says VVD councillor

Instagram on a mobile phone.

VVD councillors in The Hague have slammed the city’s involvement in a scheme to donate 1,000 poor children in the city a free smartphone when they start secondary school.

‘If they really need a smartphone, they can take a paper route,’ VVD councillor Ingrid Michon says in Tuesday’s Telegraaf. The move, she said, is sending out the wrong signal to children who are told to save up to buy a mobile phone.

The first free phones were handed out on Monday. The scheme’s backers say smartphones are becoming an increasingly important part of school planning and communication, and children without access to one risk being sidelined.

The project is being funded by the city council, the social affairs ministry’s poverty fund, Leergeld Den Haag, T-Mobile and Samsung.

At the presentation of the first phones on Monday, junior social affairs minister Jette Klijnsma said €450,000 had been earmarked for the project and that she hoped other councils would follow the example of The Hague, the Telegraaf reported.

It is unclear how much money The Hague city council has put into the free phone project, the Telegraaf said.

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