Parents could be required to provide their children with high-speed internet access under plans being drawn up by ministers in partnership with some of the country\’s leading IT firms.
Jim Knight, the schools minister, said he is in talks with companies such as Microsoft, BT, Sky, Virgin and RM to help close the widening achievement gap between pupils from the richest and poorest families. More than one million children have no access to a computer at home.
Let\’s start from the premise that this actually is a good idea. OK, what\’s the best way of getting universal access to the web for all schoolchildren?
In an interview with the Guardian, Knight signalled that the government was putting pressure on IT firms to bring down the cost of equipment if internet connections are in effect made compulsory for nearly six million children.
Erm, no, that\’s probably not it.
I\’m rather out of date but I think you can get access for £10 a month or so? Great, add £2.50 to the child credit for every first child (we already have different amounts for first and further children, don\’t we?) and tell parents that they\’ve got to have said net access. Problem solved.
The only problem with this is that while it might be cheaper, more sensible and more efficient, it doesn\’t allow ministers to look good while sticking it to the capitalists: it also makes clear, because it has to be paid for from taxation, what the real cost is. Can\’t have that now, can we? People actually knowing what the cost of something is?