Every school child in the UK will get a free email address for life by December this year, following a deal between Internet search engine firm Excite and the fledgling public and privately funded schools charity UK NetYear.
Excite said it would provide email addresses for 10 million pupils and 500,000 teachers by December and will fund the scheme by selling advertising banners in the message screen. Advertising products such as alcohol and tobacco will be taboo but it will provide popular youth culture advertisers such as Nike and Sony a more direct medium to Britain's youth.
UK NetYear was launched yesterday by Lifelong Learning Minister Kim Howells and is designed to help schools obtain and use modern information and communications technology for teaching and learning.
The initial target of UK NetYear is to help connect another 10,000 primary and secondary schools to the Internet this year. Only 6,000 schools are currently connected, the majority of which have just a single modem connection.
Mike Hardware, UK NetYear's spokesman said that the charity aims to raise £10 million through sponsorship to help set-up computer facilities at special needs schools, in addition to working with the £100 million Government budget earmarked for getting UK schools on the Net this year.