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Millions Of Children Without Internet Access In The UK : Debunking Myths

The E-Learning foundation published a research suggesting that more than one million school children in the UK do not have a computer at home and nearly two million cannot go online.

We were unfortunately unable to track down the actual research on the E-Learning foundation website; the latest press release dates from July 2010 while the most recent piece of news we could find is from the 7th of December.

While the government did not reply to the claims that children from the poorest families are much less likely to have a computer or the internet at home, it is worth remembering that the Labour government announced plans back in October 2008 to provide free laptops and internet to 270,000 families via the Home Access programme.

One which, according to this Becta landing page, benefited more than 250,000 families including thousands of children with "profound disabilities, special educational needs or who face challenges accessing computers".

The scheme was closed, then reopened in August 2010 with 22,000 computer packages distributed.

We did comment back then tht the Home Access scheme, which costs tax payers more than £300 million, was way too expensive and like many of the previous government's project, relied heavily on expensive public-private partnership schemes (PFI).

Ultimately, it is a matter of resource allocation; the E-learning foundation has its own agenda and needs to justify its own existence.

Whether the British government needs to allocate tens of millions of pounds every year to buy computer kits for the poorest to boost their life chances through better education is a debatable issue.

Better teachers, better studying environment, better infrastructure and smaller class sizes may have a bigger impact on the overall learning experience.

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 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.