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High-voltage launch for Furbie computers

THE DRIVE to refurbish discarded business computers and sell them cheaply to schools is to be led by David Jones, managing director of information systems at Scottish Power.

The Furbie Foundation, set up following an initiative by the Scottish School Board Association, will include three SSBA representatives and one each from the Bank of Scotland, the Association of Directors of Education, the unions and the Scottish Consumer Council.

Ann Hill, the SSBA's chief executive, said the foundation will launch in England next Monday. A UK organisation is to be established and it will become a founder member of the European Furbie Foundation, which is backed by the Dutch Government - the initiative started in Holland.

The Scottish Office has refused to support the scheme, setting up a working party through the Scottish Council for Educational Technology. It will consider the wider implications of refurbished computers for the National Grid for Learning, due to be introduced to schools over the next three years.

The SSBA has expressed "surprise" at the Scottish Office move, especially as its superhighways unit has been closely involved in evaluating the Dutch programme and the pilot which took place in three schools in Dumfries and Galloway.

But the apparent snub has not dented Mrs Hill's enthusiasm. She said this week that the overhauled computers, of which 3,000 are initially promised in Scotland, will be available to individual teachers as well as schools.

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