Nottingham kids to get laptops on loan

Local regeneration body gets together with MS and Arthur Andersen to create e-Learning Foundation

Schoolchildren all over the Nottingham area will be able to hire laptops cheaply, under an educational scheme to be announced Monday.

The Greater Nottingham Partnership (GNP), a local regeneration body, has teamed up with Microsoft and professional services company Arthur Andersen to create an e-learning foundation. The plan aims to increase the number of children connected to the Internet. Pupils will be able to lease a notebook computer, and Nottingham's education department hopes that they'll be able to file work from home and access curriculum Web sites.

Martin Gawith, the director of GNP, claims that the scheme would benefit not just children but all member of the community, whether studying in schools, colleges, community centres, youth clubs or prisons. The e-Learning Foundation is a charitable venture launched by Bill Gates in February.

Previous e-learning foundations have covered single classes or schools but never before has a whole local authority been involved. Under the leasing plans, a pupil's family might make a contribution of around £5.50 per week for the hire of the laptop. Tax benefits and a contribution from the school of £2 each would make up the total leasing cost of £9.50. However, poorer families would have to pay less, perhaps as little as 50p per week.

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