Headlines: November 2nd, 1999

Further pressure has been piled on the public sector to improve its electronic accessibility with news of a project to make computers and the Internet accessible to everyone, regardless of income.So far the technology revolution is still limited to those who can afford a PC – and Bill Gates’ dream of one found in every home is still far from being realised.

But seven pioneer Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Learning Centres have just been announced which will give adults in disadvantaged communities access to computers and the Internet.

And they are part of a 650 million pound package to build up to 1,000 learning centres to help everyone become part of the technology revolution.

The money is part of an attempt to bridge the gap between the computer haves and have nots. ICT Learning Centres are part of the Government’s wider strategy to promote ICT skills. They are part of the 1.7 million pound programme of support anounced shortly after the launch of the National Grid for Learning in 1998.

The seven projects range from a mobile centre touring with a funfair around the West Midlands, Internet access and outreach training to small businesses in Manchester, five small projects (in Brent, Hangleton & Knowle, Newcastle, Devonport and Shipley) which are geographically marginalised and keen to explore how they can use ICT, to a scheme set up by Ford Components Limited in Tyneside to build a learning centre open to non-employees as well as staff.

Lessons learned will be fed back into the main programme that will be launched in the New Year.