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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.