Home Access Scheme or Hope Abandoned to Scandal?

After its puff by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, in newspapers and his podcast (mp3 file link) I’ve had a few people asking about the Home Access Scheme where families apply for a package from a closed list of six suppliers of new PCs, software and internet access. No Free and Open Source Software, no recycled PCs, no greener options, no community networking, the minimum amount of memory for the bundled software and it looks like no mix-and-match to get the best fit, as noted by Watfordgap.

Broadly, I agree with Ian Cuddy (of #ukgovoss fame) that the scheme is one in a long line that Does Not Compute and I’m very disappointed that Cooperative Party MP and Schools Minister Ed Balls is so supportive of it. It does nothing to help cooperatively-developed Free and Open Source Software. If anything, it’s a market distortion that will hinder development.

Even worse during this debt crisis, Becta ignored warnings about the costs from Mark Taylor and others who have been fighting the brave fight with ukgov FOSS adoption recently. Home laptops increase achievement (apparently) by derek.wenmoth suggests that educators are not particularly convinced that this is a good thing, either.

In reply to such criticisms, Becta’s HomeAccess homepage has one of their executive directors commenting:

“Recent evidence suggests that young people with a computer at home could get a B, rather than a D, at GCSE.”

Well yes, they could, but they could get a D rather than a B too. What’s the context for that quote? Where’s the link to the evidence? Or should we just believe him because he wears a jacket and smiles?

So, where does this leave us? There’s no funding for councils to promote the £300m #homeaccess
scheme to residents. [PDF]
Can anyone rescue any crumbs of comfort from this basket case for me, please?

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