Budget 1999: Information Technology - `Computers for all' in pounds 500m plan

LAPTOPS WILL be loaned as if they were library books and up to 20,000 teachers will be given computers in the Government's "knowledge revolution", the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, announced yesterday. An extra pounds 500 million will also be made available as part of a "computers-for-all" scheme.

"Our target is a national network of 1,000 computer learning centres, one for every community in Britain," he said. "They will be in schools, colleges, libraries, in Internet cafes and on the high street."

Partnerships between local authorities, colleges and employers will mean that computers and software can be lent in the new century "in the way local libraries have loaned books in the last century."

An extra pounds 20 million will be made available to provide laptops for about 20,000 teachers to use at home.

The Government will also introduce legislation so that employees will be able to borrow computers from their companies as a tax-free benefit.

Mr Brown said: "Those who were left out of the knowledge revolution will be left behind in the new knowledge economy. The more individual talent we nurture, the more economic growth we will achieve."

Within three years, 32,000 schools will be connected to the Internet and 370,000 teacherstrained to use computers. Inner-city schools will share pounds 100 million to go towards improved technology.

Adults will be encouraged to brush up on basic skills and oncomputer literacy. They will receive discounts on course fees if they invest in "individual learning accounts" - savings accounts designed to help them pay course fees. This year, one million people will receive pounds 150 each for these accounts.

Those who sign up for basic education courses will receive an 80-per- cent discount on their fees, and employers will get tax breaks if they invest in the accounts. Employees will pay no tax on the accounts.

This will be funded by phasing out vocational tax relief, which has been subsidising non-vocational courses.

"Britain has achieved universal free education for children. This Budget introduces the opportunity for universal free education at every age, so everyone will have the chance to succeed in the new economy," said Mr Brown.

About 11,000 teachers already own laptop computers. The Government set up a pounds 5 million pilot scheme in 1997 to give laptops to 1,000 teachers to see whether they woulduse IT more if they could prepare work at home in their own time. The scheme increased IT use in the classroom, but it would cost pounds 400 million to extend it to the entire profession.

Last week the Prime Minister announced that all Scottish teachers would be given a laptop computer by 2003.

Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, warmly welcomed yesterday's announcement: "The entire package will be welcomed by teachers. They are to be given the modern-day tools of the trade, with the training to make maximum use of them," he said.

Alan Tuckett, director of the National Institute for Adult Continuing Education and a senior advisor to the Government on adult education, praised plans to lend laptops as "very imaginative thinking".

He said: "Lending computers means that it is not just access to wealth that controls access to education. That's very important. At first sight it's a very creative move."

But some computer experts warned that technology was not a panacea for raising school standards. Rene Moolenaar, managing director of AngliaCampus, a leading provider of Internet services for schools, said: "The Government needs to ensure that the vast resources it has now committed to improving teachers' IT skills are not wasted.

"The Budget appears to be very hardware driven. People often forget that a computer is like a CD player - useless without software. To ensure that this provision contributes to the development of the National Grid for Learning, what really matters are the software and Internet packages."

John Field, professor of life-long learning at Warwick University, said that technology was vital to make sure initiatives such as the University for Industry (a government initiative set up to increase training in the workplace) were effective.

"One of the problems of policies designed to make folk take up technology is that it is really strange to them," he said.

"If you allow them to borrow a computer from the local library or walk into a community centre and try one out, they are more likely to use it." He said that tax incentives to promote learning accounts were vital to improve their take-up.

The accounts have been hailed as the best way of funding a revolution in adult education and training, but Professor Field warned that pilots had shown people were unwilling to invest.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in the win over QPR
footballInternet reacts to miss shocker for Liverpool striker
Voices
Sol Campbell near his home in Chelsea
voices
News
Kimi the fox cub
newsBurberry under fire from animal rights group - and their star, Kimi
Arts and Entertainment
Ella Henderson's first studio album has gone straight to the top of the charts
music
News
<p>Jonathan Ross</p>
<p>Jonathan Ross (or Wossy, as he’s affectionately known) has been on television and radio for an extraordinarily long time, working on a seat in the pantheon of British presenters. Hosting Friday Night with Jonathan Ross for nine years, Ross has been in everything from the video game Fable to Phineas and Ferb. So it’s probably not so surprising that Ross studied at Southampton College of Art (since rebranded Southampton Solent), a university known nowadays for its media production courses.</p>
<p>However, after leaving Solent, Ross studied History at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, now part of the UCL, a move that was somewhat out of keeping with the rest of his career. Ross was made a fellow of the school in 2006 in recognition of his services to broadcasting.</p>
TV

Rumours that the star wants to move on to pastures new

Life and Style
fashion
News
Paul Nuttall, left, is seen as one of Ukip's key weapons in selling the party to the North of England
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Russell Brand labelled 'left-wing commie scum' by Fox News
TV
Arts and Entertainment
BBC's Antiques Roadshow uncovers a TIE fighter pilot helmet from the 1977 Star Wars film, valuing it at £50,000
TV

TV presenter Fiona Bruce seemed a bit startled by the find during the filming of Antiques Roadshow

News
people

Comedian says he 'never laughed as hard as I have writing with Rik'

News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Steven Caulker of QPR scores an own goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Queens Park Rangers and Liverpool
football
Arts and Entertainment
artKaren Wright tours the fair and wishes she had £11m to spare
News
i100
Life and Style
Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh been invited to take part in Women Fashion Power, a new exhibition that celebrates the way women's fashion has changed in relation to their growing power and equality over the past 150 years
fashionKirsty and Camila swap secrets about how to dress for success
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
booksNew book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Operational Risk Manager - Asset Management

£60,000 - £80,000: Saxton Leigh: Our client is an leading Asset Manager based...

Project Coordinator - 12 month contract

£27000 - £32000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our large charity ...

IT Operations Manager - London - £55,000

£50000 - £55000 per annum + bonus + benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Relationship M...

Banking Solicitor NQ+

Highly Attractive Salary : Austen Lloyd: NOTTINGHAM - BRILLIANT FIRM - You wil...

Day In a Page

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past