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Free Home Internet For Underprivileged Pupils

Wednesday, January 10th, 2007 at 14:12 by Eliza E. Lanyard

As society as a whole becomes more computer dependant and web-based, there is an increasing risk for those without internet access to become ever more alienated, marginalised and unable to participate in everyday life.

Ways of resolving this ‘Digital Divide’, for school pupils in particular, are being looked at by the Minister for Schools and 14-19 Learners, Jim Knight. He has set up an initiative to look at ways of enabling those pupils without internet and computer access to get it, thus narrowing the gap between the onlines and the offlines. 

Jim Knight has said “The so-called digital divide cannot be allowed to create and reinforce social and academic divisions” so he has set up a task force of experts from government, IT industry and education charities to look at what can be done. “We need to come up with a sustainable solution which will work for future generations as well as this one, building on existing good practice rather than looking for a quick fix.”

Laudable aims, but a sticking plaster towards ridding Britain of its have, have-not-very-much and have-nothing-at-all levels in society.  I’m sure social and academic inequality would be more easily conquered if you gave struggling families and pupils better housing, lower energy bills, adequate incomes, decent food and parenting , not to mention enough teachers and textbooks in school, rather than access to chat forums to discuss the latest so called celebrity gossip and msn chats about not very much in particular.
 
According to government figures, by 2008 the Department for Education and Skills says it will have invested over £5bn in “state-of-the-art” technology for schools.  I remember when we got a computer at my secondary school. It was cited as an example of how forward thinking the school was and how important computers were going to be in the future. It would have been easier to get into Fort Knox than get near the thing which was regarded with a kind of awe and reverence usually reserved for religious leaders.

For months only the head of the Maths department was allowed anywhere near it and all it seemed to be used for was printing calendars with a badly drawn possibly copyright infringing picture of Snoopy at the top.

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4 Comments on “Free Home Internet For Underprivileged Pupils”

  1. fiona Says:

    you were lucky… our first computer at school didn’t have a printer. it was a sinclair something or other and we were given programmes to type out to “see amazing animation and how forward technology is going” as quoted by one teacher. after 2 weeks and umpteen ‘error’ rewrites low and behold…a wee stick man a magnifying glass couldn’t pick out lurched across the tiny screen. wooo! the excitement. ha. schools have pc’s these days,some homes have pc’s, but doesn’t the dept for ed and skills realise that libraries also have pc’s? surely encouragement to use these public buildings facilities would be more realistic and far more financially beneficial,as you say to pump money into the schools for things like books,teachers,outings for projects etc. btw my 12 yr old son came home with a text book i used at school about 100 years ago. he had to treat it with kid gloves as it was practically like tissue paper and had more sellotape holding it tgether than santa uses at christmas. so much for our kids education when books can’t be renewed

  2. Sharon Says:

    Trouble is, to use computers effectively you need to be able to READ. Too many school pupils these days, apparently, can’t, even after 11 years in the ‘education’ system.

    Come on, government, let’s have less of the trendy sticking plaster ’solutions’ & more of what really needs to be done. Oh, but then you’d need to put in some thought, & a few value judgements as well.

  3. Eliza E. Lanyard Says:

    Indeed, its shocking that so many children can go through years of school and not be able to read by the time they leave.

  4. fiona Says:

    I must admit that in my area very few kids can’t not read.(maybe our old scottish presbyterian education) But i do find that most of the money these days is spent refurbishing schools rather than ‘refurbishing’ young minds. Another point i would like to ask is why do the kids take home so much ‘bunff’ ie leaflets or very often sheets of paper from the school with very little of interest to say on them! Surely money could be saved for the ed dept by reducing this excessive waste of resources therefore reducing recycling as well which we are so often pounding into the kids heads they should be doing. The ed dept should start to educate itself before it educates our children and whine on that kids should all have access to a pc.

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