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'Nearly new' machines to cut costs

The strategy paper envisages the plans announced last week as simply a start. The Scottish Office will be issuing guidance, for example, on the use of refurbished computers. This has been piloted in Dumfries and the Netherlands is being taken as the model.

But the Scottish Office cautions that such computers must be "carefully used in an appropriate mix with new computers" and should be refurbished to an agreed standard.

The Government also expects the private sector to pick up the tab for the growth of the Grid. The model is West Lothian's Pounds 7 million Creatis project, Creating the Information Society. The project is backed by BT, Sun Microsystems, ICL, Exemplar and RM Learning Systems.

West Lothian plans at least one computer in every classroom in its 65 primaries linked to the Internet, and 200 computers in each of the 11 secondaries. All 14 libraries, 35 community education centres and the council's education offices will be linked to each other and to the Internet.

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