The Government has unveiled a scheme designed to give 20,000 disadvantaged kids in Oldham and Suffolk free PCs, with schools minister Jim Knight calling on local IT retailers to offer cheap hardware and software deals to all pupils aged seven to 18 in the two pilot areas.
The move is part of the Government's £300m 'Next Generation Learning' scheme, which will see children between seven and 18 given a grant to cover the purchase of a PC, as well as software, one year's broadband access and three years' technical assistance.
Families of children in the age group must earn less than £15,500 per year or be on income support in order to qualify for the trials, which start in February. Knight claimed that the scheme was important as a way of creating equal access to IT equipment and the internet.
"There has to be a culture where families see home access [to IT and the internet] is as important as making sure their children have pen, paper and calculator at school," he said.
The deal will also be open to those in alternative education or in care through local education authorities.