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UK system builder hands out £35m freebies to schools

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Time Computers is coming to the aid of impoverished schools in a £35 million IT give-away. The "Free Software for Schools" bonanza is due to kick off on Saturday, when parents and kids can start collecting tokens for Tiny kit from The Times newspaper. Two tokens will appear each day - one for school and one for home - until next January. One thousand tokens will net around £500 of software. Tokens will also be available from WHSmith and John Menzies, where every £5 spent will earn five tokens. And there will be several incentive schemes - those registering before 8 October will get 350 extra points, and parents who sign up for NetLine, Times' ISP, will get another 50. The UK PC builder has teamed up with The Times and WHSmith for the offer, which will run until the end of January 2000. As well as software, schools can apply for hardware, though the number of tokens needed for a PC was not known at Time's PR office this afternoon. A truckload, presumably. However, the biggest push involves the software. "It's the software that is missing from the schools at the moment. They have the hardware, but can't learn from it without the software," said a Time representative. Around 10,000 schools have signed up for the scheme so far. David Blunkett, secretary of state for education and employment, said: "Free Software for Schools is an excellent example of a private sector initiative that benefits the public sector. "Quality software provides an invaluable learning tool across the curriculum and complements government investment in IT for schools." ®

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