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More Than Half of UK Primary Schools Are Now Online

UK Schools Minister Charles Clarke has said that more than half of the UK's primary schools are now connected to the Internet.

Clarke was speaking about an NOP survey commissioned by the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (BECTa) to discover facts about the use of IT and communications technology in schools.

"We pioneered arrangements with BT and the cable companies to wire up schools to the superhighway free of charge and this appears to be paying off," said Clarke.

"Latest NOP estimates indicate that 51 percent of primary schools are now connected to the Internet. This compares with only 17 percent in 1997."

However, primary schools are still among the "least-connected" educational institutions, with 90 percent of secondary schools, 100 percent of colleges of further education and 100 percent of universities having Internet access.

Schools can take advantage of special tariffs for getting online. Telecom watchdog Oftel announced earlier this month an agreement in principle with operators to extend the same kind of benefits to public libraries, colleges and Citizens' Advice Bureaux.

Clarke mentioned that the government was also spending £230 million ($368 million) through the New Opportunities Fund to train teachers in the use of information and communications technology in the classroom.