Big Five take part in mayor’s PC drive

The campaign, which aims to involve all the Big Five firms as well as many other City institutions, will give 100,000 donated PCs to schools and other organisations across the capital over three years.

The first eleven PCs were delivered yesterday to Friars Primary Foundation School in Southwark, enabling more computer time for the children.The campaign organisers said all PCs would be refurbished by Tools for Schools, a national charity, which would ensure all confidential data had been wiped to Ministry of Defence and Pentagon standards.

KPMG has already signed up to the programme, known as AccessIT, and London First was confident others would follow.

According to London First, businesses such as banks and accountancy firms upgrade their PCs every 18 to 24 months on average, and many recognise that their old equipment could still be put to good use.

London First said that there was one computer for every eight pupils in secondary schools in the capital, with 13 pupils sharing a PC in primary schools.

Livingstone said: ‘I said in my manifesto we needed to tackle the shortage of IT skills in London and AccessIT is a practical way of doing this.’

Schools will be required to pay £75 per computer, each of which will come with a Microsoft Windows operating system.

Denying that the campaign was a form of back door privatisation, the campaign said that schools need to invest in the latest technology when their resources allow, but that refurbished PCs could be an invaluable additional resource.

A spokesperson for London First said: ‘School IT budgets can now be freed up for other purposes, such as acquiring educational software. We would be finishing off the programme rather than stepping in to replace it.’

Gerry Acher, KPMG’s London senior partner and a driving force behind the campaign, said: ‘I am very worried that we are creating an underclass of IT illiterate pupils in London. We hope this initiative will be the first of many and that other cities will follow suit.’

The PCs will all be required to meet certain standards.

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