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All schoolchildren to have home computers

Government announces plan to tackle digital divide


Child at a computer

A government taskforce is being created to ensure all schoolchildren are given access to computers at home.

The scheme will target one million youngsters who currently do not have computers to use for homework, in a bid by the Department for Education to close the ‘digital divide’.

The provision of universal home access to computers would allow all pupils to download and complete homework from web-based ‘virtual learning environments’, the department said.

By 2008, the Government wants every child to have their own online learning space they can access anywhere.

IT taskforce

The taskforce, which includes companies such as BT, Microsoft, Dell, Intel, RM, PC World and parent and governor groups, will also look at the best ways to equip schools to raise student attainment in information and computer technology (ICT).

It is set to report back to the government in 18 months.

Proposals could include extending existing cheap computer leasing schemes for parents, and the taskforce will advise ministers on how pupils could use technology ranging from interactive digital TV to internet-linked games consoles, the government said.

Digital divide

Schools Minister Jim Knight said: ‘ICT is revolutionising the way we live our lives and I want every child to have access to the technology that we take for granted in our adult working lives.

‘It is not acceptable for there to be a digital divide which denies some young people raising their attainment or give them lifelong skills.’

He went on: ‘Good teaching and parental involvement is the key to effective learning – but giving young people the freedom to do their homework and coursework whenever and wherever they need could completely change the face of education.

‘We want to work together with the IT industry, voluntary sector and education providers to give every young person access to learning materials – be it at school, home or through extended schools.’

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