Digital divide set to be bridged

A NEW scheme has been launched in Suffolk schools to provide free computers and internet access at home for families who would not otherwise be able to forward online learning.

A NEW scheme has been launched in Suffolk schools to provide free computers and internet access at home for families who would not otherwise be able to forward online learning.

The project is intended to help bridge the digital divide - more than one million children nationally still do not have a computer at home and 35 per cent of families have no access to the internet.

Government, which is funding the �500 packages as a national pilot project, want to create a level playing field for learners with every child able to use the internet at home for their learning.

The Home Access project was launched at Deben High in Felixstowe with parents from the school and its feeder primary schools given the opportunity to find out what was involved, and see the equipment in action.

Andrew Salter, deputy headteacher at Deben, said the package contained a computer ready to use, software, three years' anti-virus protection, advice on how to use the system for learning and service, support, insurance and warranty.

There was also a one year's subscription to a broadband internet connection.

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“Each package is worth up to �500. In addition, for those with special educational needs, further grant funding may be available for certain types of assistive technology,” said Mr Salter.

“Schools will be able to help learners to identify individual needs and whether they are eligible for additional funding.”

Those eligible include families receiving income support, income-based Job Seekers Allowance, or an income of less than �15,575 and receive child tax credit.

Jeremy Pembroke, leader of Suffolk County Council, said: “In Suffolk every child does matter, and I look forward to many more children here using computers and the internet at home to learn much more effectively.”

The scheme has so far been launched in Felixstowe, Ipswich, Woodbridge, Kesgrave, and south Suffolk, and by the end of April will have been rolled out across the county.

Should government should pay for families to have computers? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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