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Blessed are the used PC donors

African students welcome college's cast-offs, reports Martin Whittaker

Students at an African school are working with new technology for the first time thanks to recycled computers from a Manchester sixth-form college.

Business studies students at the Tutazamie college in Likasi, a city in the Democratic Republic of Congo, used to rely on old mechanical typewriters.

Now, the school has installed 40 PCs which have been shipped out from the Xaverian college in Manchester.

Xaverian hopes the gift will lead to a partnership that could eventually offer the Congo school internet access to its courses.

Principal Tony Andrews said: "We were thrilled to be able to make a difference by sending the PCs to the Congo and make an impact on the lives of teachers and children at the Tutazamie college.

"We take technology so much for granted in our schools in the UK, and it was fantastic to see before-and-after photographs of children making use of the PCs in their classes."

Xaverian is a Roman Catholic sixth-form college with 1,350 students aged 16 to 19. It offers a range of courses including A-levels, GCSEs and vocational foundation courses including business, IT and health and social care.

Its link with the Congo college began through a former vice-principal, Brother Philip Revell. He is a member of the Xaverian Brothers - an international religious community founded more than 150 years ago which sponsors Catholic schools worldwide.

The Xaverians have been active in supporting schools in the Congo, where education is in a state of near collapse after years of war.

"English schools tend to update their computers every three to four years to remain state-of-the-art for their pupils," said Brother Philip.

"I contacted Xaverian college in the hope that any replaced machines could be shipped out to the Congo. I wasn't disappointed."

The computers were installed at the African school in March.The PCs arrived loaded with Windows and Word, and keyboards configured for use in francophone Likasi.

Initially they will be used by 15-year-olds and to train teachers in IT.

PCs have also been installed for the head and his secretary to improve school administration. Tony Andrews hopes the computers will be the start of a valuable partnership. "We have just developed a pioneering virtual learning environment on our intranet. In the long term we see no reasons why students from Tutazamie college cannot get access to it."

The TESHSBC Make The Link Awards aim to promote partnerships between schools and colleges in the UK and those abroad. Among the awards is a pound;5,000 prize and pound;1,500 runner-up prize for sixth form and FE colleges. To enter -and this week is your last chance - go to make_the_link awards All entries must be received by no later than 6pm on Wednesday July 20 2005

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