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Merseygrid links homes

Two projects in Liverpool are using technology to link schools more closely with the communities they serve. Community Step is part of the pound;14 million Merseygrid initiative that has programmes focused on primary (Primary Step) and secondary schools (Merseyside Education Online Network).

Community Step is an attempt to help parents of pupils attending the 38 schools participating in Primary Step keep up with the technology skills being learned by their children.

Funded by a European Regional Development Fund grant and managed by e-services firm ICL, the three-year project began in March and provides access to computers in three community centres and 28 Primary Step schools in some of the city's most deprived areas.

By developing the skills of parents and other local residents, it is hoped that family and community learnig will be fostered and employment prospects enhanced. Users can get to grips with applications such as Microsoft Word, produce CVs, and access email and the Internet.

Meanwhile, about 2,000 homes in the Kensington area of Liverpool, one of the most deprived in England, will be connected to the Internet in a pound;500,000 pilot project. It is the first under the pound;10 million Wired-Up Communities scheme that aims to bridge the digital divide by connecting homes in some of the poorest areas of the country.

Recycled PCs from the Computers Within Reach scheme are being used, as well as digital television, to give residents access to a range of local and national services on the Net and to develop links with schools to see what role the Web can play in helping to deliver the National Curriculum and develop homeschool links.

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