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Something to emulate from the French : The Student Laptop Program

Back in September 2004, François Fillon, the French Minister of Education launched the Student Laptop Program which aimed at giving mobile computing power to cash strapped university students.

Nine hardware firms, six banks and 2.2 million students were involved and by the end of 2006, it is expected that a third of French students will have a laptop; all for just one Euro per day for three years or just over £750 over three years.

While it might not be as innovative or as advantageous as the recently doused Home Computer Initiative, the Student Laptop Program works brilliantly thanks to government backing and a down to earth approach.

It is actually a student loan at a very low interest rate (1% for the three years) that finances the purchase of the laptop. No black magic here and certainly attractive enough for banks and for individuals as well.

There's also the infrastructure that the French Government has set up to encourage the popularisation of the scheme. More than thirty laptops are on offer, all with office software and wireless LAN.

Rather than going for the masses, as the UK-borne Home Computer Initiative initially aimed at doing, France actually targeted the category which would get the most out of it; something to ponder over.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at ITProPortal.com where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.