Out-of-school computer access is stranding millions

6th January 2006 at 00:00
More than two million students are being left behind in the drive for e-learning in British schools because they lack access to computers and the internet at home.

While schools are better equipped with technology than ever before, some 20 per cent of pupils come from families that cannot afford to give their children the same equipment.

Led by the e-Learning Foundation, a number of organisations - including the British Education Suppliers Association, the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust, National College for School Leadership and The TES - recently joined forces to launch the Equity Digital Divide campaign to highlight the issue and find solutions to the problem.

Estelle Morris, chair of the e-Learning Foundation and former Education Secretary, said: "Children need access to computers both at school and at home. That's why we need to see an increase in portable technologies that can be used beyond the classroom - and at school."

Although the cost of a new computer has fallen as low as pound;400, Valerie Thompson, chief executive of the foundation, said it was still a prohibitive sum for many families (along with internet charges).

She is urging schools to consider buying more portable devices, especially when replacing desktop computers, because they can be utilised more in the classroom and also out of school hours.

Businesses also had a role to play, she said, and the Equity campaign is calling on more companies to become involved in trying to reduce the gap between technology haves and have-nots.


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