Blair backs laptop crusade

TONY Blair has signalled his support for an ambitious plan to ensure that every British pupil and teacher has a laptop.

To buy or lease computers, schools would set up local "e-learning foundations" to raise funds. In poor areas in particular the cash would be supplemented by contributions and support from a national foundation.

Technology firms would be urged to donate to the foundation, said the scheme's backer, Professor Henry Beker.

Professor Beker, the chairman and founder of high-tech firm Baltimore Technologies, last month met Downing Steet advisers and Michael Wills, the learning and technology minister. He was delighted with their response and the Prime Minister's "strong support" for the idea.

The Government is to study the feasibility of the idea.

Professor Beker said the IT industry realised that backing the plan was in their commercial interests. It would stimulate demand for computers, increase usage of the Internet and ensure a more IT literate workforce.

If all goes to plan a national foundation should be running by early next year.

Analysis, page 26.

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