In a report published today Becta, the government agency responsible for advising schools on technology, has been accused of blocking schools from meeting their carbon emissions targets and limiting choice in the procurement of ICT solutions. The Becta Procurement Framework, a list of preferred ICT suppliers, is labelled a 'closed shop' that promotes 'business croynism' and forces schools to buy expensive, power-hungry technologies that do little to prepare students for the workplace.
With energy costs increasing exponentially, school's must look at innovative new ways of reducing the power consumption of their ICT equipment. The report highlights Becta's lack of leadership in offering positive advice to schools on how to meet this challenge.
The report's author, Dr. John Spencer said: “Whilst Becta's official advice is for schools not to update to Vista or Office 2007, they can not present new, greener technology alternatives to schools because their favoured procurement partners offer nothing more than the usual Microsoft owned or affiliated software.
“Rather than simplify the process of technology procurement in schools Becta is holding back desparately needed modernisation in ICT.
“Vista and Office 2007 are expensive to license and often require schools to invest in more power hungry hardware to work. Very few businesses are adopting them because they offer little additional value to users. The same is true of students.
“Becta's advice is the stick with what they have, Windows XP and Office 2000. But how does this prosaic position address the need for schools to lower ICT costs and reduce their carbon footprint?
“Becta's current advice amounts to little more than switching off PCs at night, using less air-conditioning and reducing paper consumption. They choose not to recommend greener, better-value technology solutions.
“Given the existence of proven alternatives to the status quo, Becta's advice is indicative of a moribund quango that is limiting positive change in school's ICT.
Becta is the Government's agency for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in education, covering the United Kingdom. It was established in 1998 through the reconstitution of the National Council for Educational Technology (NCET). Becta is a company limited by guarantee with charitable status.
In March 2007, Becta was given an enhanced remit by the Department for children, schools and families (DCSF) (which was then the DfES); to lead the co-ordination, development and delivery of the government's strategy to harness the power of technology to help improve education, skills and children's services. A key part of its role is to work with the DCSF and other favoured procurement partners to ensure that the potential of technology is taken into account in developing future policy.
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