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Microsoft & Intel back education scheme bringing computers to more UK children

Microsoft and Intel have joined forces with IT supplier RM Education to launch Shape the Future UK – a programme aiming to increase accessibility to computers for children.

The project offers Windows-running, Intel-powered PCs and tablets to schools at a discounted price, which can then be given to pupils for permanent use at home. Organisers of the scheme hope it will “close the opportunity gap between rich and poor by putting technology in the hands of every child.”

To be eligible, schools must fund the purchase of Shape the Future devices with at least 50 per cent government money, while the hardware costs around 30 per cent less than typical RRPs.

RM, which specialises in products and services for educational institutions, has included its NB14 and 320 notebooks as well as its MiniBook laptop and MiniTablet among the devices available. The Asus X401A laptop, Lenovo ThinkPad, and Acer W510 tablet are also included in the range, with the newly-released Windows 8 coming pre-installed alongside over 20 educational software programs.

Shape the Future says its campaign was partly motivated by figures from Experian, which suggested that some children could generate up to £300,000 in additional earnings over their lifetime if they had home access to a computer. UK wide, this amounts to an extra £6.6 billion in further income.

Commenting on the project launch, Mike Allen, Managing Director of RM Education said, "We all know how technology can deliver learning that is more exciting, more engaging and more effective. Just imagine what we could achieve if every child, regardless of background, had their own device. It's a great opportunity to close the attainment gap and to level the playing field. I can't wait to start talking to schools about how they can take advantage of the scheme."

Shape the Future claims the affordable PC and software package has worked successfully in 56 other countries, bringing home computing to over 21 million students. ITProPortal recently took an in-depth look into the role tablets could play in the future of education.