Microsoft, Intel and RM Education have announced the Shape the Future UK programme through which they aim to promote UK computing education.
Announced today, the programme sees the three companies partner up to provide hardware and software at a hefty discount - over 30 per cent, it's claimed - to all government-funded schools across the UK. Those signing up to the scheme will provide one-to-one access to computing resources for their pupils - meaning everybody gets a tablet or laptop of their very own.
It's claimed that the programme came about due to research from credit reference agency Experian suggesting that access to a home computer can have a significant impact on future earnings potential. According to the Impact of 1:1 PC Ownership
report, based on research data from PriceWaterhouseCoopers, children who have access to a computer at home could generate up to £300,000 more earnings over their lifetime than those that don't.
There is, of course, another, unmentioned, reason for Microsoft and Intel to show a sudden interest in the education market: the Raspberry Pi. The £30 device, which provides a fully-functional microcomputer in a credit-card sized package, is proving a big hit and has no lesser aims than conquering the education market. If that happens, both Intel and Microsoft stand to lose: the Raspberry Pi uses an ARM-based processor from Broadcom rather than an Intel x86 chip, and typically runs a Linux operating system rather than Microsoft's Windows.
The idea of future generations of engineers and programmers growing up in a non-Wintel environment is clearly unconscionable to Microsoft and Intel, leading inexorably to the birth of the Shape the Future UK programme.
'Shape the Future has the power to put knowledge in the hands of children. That knowledge empowers them to shape their own future,
' claimed Microsoft's Joice Fernandes, leader of the worldwide Shape the Future programme, at the announcement. 'I passionately believe that Shape the Future is a true force for good - as has been proven with our projects around the world. I'm thrilled that we are now bringing this programme to the UK.
'Technology in Education is moving into a new era of mobility and usage, with more and more students continuing their learning beyond the classroom, especially at home. We at Intel are very excited about this program and that we feel it will help bridge the accessibility of technology to all students, with a scheme that is all encompassing and fair,
' added Tim Hatch, Intel's director for UK education. 'We need our students from whatever their backgrounds to have that equal start in life and help them become the next generation of informed, flexible and collaborative employees.
Details of the devices available under the Shape the Future programme are available on the RM website