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Hi-tech for new teachers

New teachers should be given a laptop and tax breaks should be introduced to encourage all teachers to buy a computer, Don Foster, the Liberal Democrats' education spokesman, has said.

The Government last week admitted that only 2.48 per cent of teachers have received a laptop under a programme that started three years ago.

Education minister Charles Clarke told Parliament that 9,500 computers were issued in 1997-98 at a cost of #163;23 million, bringing the total to 10,932.

"All teachers need to be equipped for the information age - that includes the 97.52 per cent who have received nothing so far," Mr Foster said.

At this rate it would take another 40 years for every teacher to get a laptop. "It's another case of the Government launching initiatives for the few and not the many in the teaching profession," he said.

Mr Foster said inducements such as tax concessions on equipment or a leasing system were needed.

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