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BBC Scotland's Leslie Anderson
"The scheme aims to provide a way out of poverty for thousands of people living in deprived areas"
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Reevel Alderson, Home Affairs Correspondent
"Ministers fear some communities will lose out in the technology race"
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Wednesday, 2 February, 2000, 19:26 GMT
Libraries book a place on the internet

Scotland Internet graphic It aims to increase internet access to the less well off

Every public library in Scotland is to be linked to the internet as part of a multi-million project to improve computer literacy.

The cash is coming from the National Lottery's New Opportunities Fund which believes the scheme will help the country's disadvantaged communities pick up new skills.

It is already understood that the quickening pace of the information technology revolution provides a new way of working, shopping and learning.

Cyber Essays screen Computers play a huge part in life
But it also means communities which do not have ready access to computers - and in particular the internet - can be left behind.

Frequently these are areas where there is poverty, low skills and a poor level of educational achievement.

To help bridge that gap, the fund is to allocate 23m across Scotland.

It will offer training in information and communications technology and will help fund programmes to establish local websites.

Half of the cash will go to supporting what is called the People's Network - linking every Scottish public library to the internet and the national grid for learning.

Circuit board The scheme is being funded by lottery money
The Communities Minister Wendy Alexander says the scheme aims to improve social justice by tackling what she calls "information poverty".

She added: "The digital revolution sets us all a great challenge. We must harness information technology to work for us. To ensure the information poor of today become the information rich of tomorrow."

Similar projects to bring the internet to a wider Scottish audience have been put in place, particularly in schools.

In West Lothian, the cable company Telewest has pioneered its e-cademy project, which helps put schools online.

And Edinburgh is now developing an advanced education system with the introduction of a comprehensive schools network.

More than 50,000 teachers and pupils are being linked together, each with their own e-mail address.

Each one has unlimited access to the internet and access to all the academic resources it has to offer.

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See also:
17 Aug 99 |  Scotland
Scotland grasps Internet thistle
19 Dec 99 |  Education
Call to speed up pupils' net use

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