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Global Economics

British Plan: Broadband for All Kids

Six million schoolchildren in England and Wales could get home broadband access under government plans to boost education

All of England and Wales' six million school children could have home broadband access under plans being drawn up by the government to improve education standards.

A Department for Children, Schools and Family (DCSF) spokesman confirmed to the government is aiming to make the provision of home IT as much a part of school as uniform or sports kit.

More than one million children do not have access to a computer at home, according to the DCSF.

The DCSF said it is in talks with BT, Microsoft and RM, among others, to create partnerships to bring these plans to fruition. The department is also putting pressure on suppliers to bring down the price of IT equipment to close the gap between children from different financial backgrounds.

The initiative, which is being led by schools minister Jim Knight, also includes parents having access to online updates of their children's performance and behaviour. This is planned for secondary schools in 2009 with primary schools to follow a year later.

Knight, in an interview with The Guardian, said: "We need to get to a point where in the same way when they start school the expectation is you've [the parent] got to find a school uniform, provide them with something to write with and probably these days a calculator, and in secondary school some sports gear -- well, you add to that some IT. Obviously you need to make that affordable, you need to make that universal otherwise you just advantage those who can afford it."

The government's Home Access Task Force is due to publish a report in April.

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