Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Free computers to kids

A lot of people have commented unfavourably on Gordon Brown's pledge to spend £300m on providing free computers and Internet access to disadvantaged children. I can understand where they're coming from, but what riles me most is the fact this money will no doubt go on purchasing brand new computers (up to £700 per child we're told) when surely a better scheme would be to provide second-hand computers from a variety of different sources, thereby saving them from landfill?

Any computer built in the 21st century is capable of running Windows XP, which in turn is more than capable of delivering Internet access to anyone who wants it. Goodness knows how many computers end up on the skip each year, but surely a better use for that money would be to encourage people with older PCs to either donate them or sell them for a small fee to a central authority (or better still, a group of local authorities) for redistributing to those who need them.

The costs of setting up a scheme would easily be outweighed by the savings made, and would provide jobs for people to manage the scheme, while helping to divert more computers from landfill in the process. It would also avoid acting like a slap in the face to those poor families who've struggled to provide their children with a computer and Internet access because they don't wait for government handouts.

Maybe I'm being naive, or crazy, or both, but it seems this whole scheme is another example of government madness. No doubt Brown has some cosy deal set up with a computer manufacturer or two to shift yet more units and provide more profits for their shareholders...

No comments: