All English children to have internet and computer access

Children from jobless and low income families in England will receive free computers and broadband access under a government scheme to close the digital divide among young people.

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By  Fida Slayman Published  October 11, 2008

Children from jobless and low income families in England will receive free computers and broadband access under a government scheme to close the digital divide among young people.

The US$557 million project, due to be rolled out across the whole country, will make England one of the first countries to provide computer and internet access for all its young people.

Schools minister Jim Knight said that access to technology will help to close the achievement gap between rich and poor. "Pupils without internet access are at a disadvantage to their peers. Home access is increasingly becoming an essential part of a good education and having a computer with internet access should be seen as essential as having a school bag, a uniform or pen and paper."

Simply giving children laptops and internet access, however, will not address the ICT imbalance, Knight added.

"A laptop that's never used will not close the digital divide. What's important is what young people use computers for. I want young people using the internet to study and research their school work and to find information that would normally be difficult to get hold of."

Students in state care will be the first to receive the funding in November, while the wider programme will start in early 2009. The programme will expand to include the rest of England by autumn next year.

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