The Brazilian government plans to extend internet use among low-income groups by offering loans to buy the Computador Popular - a purpose-built, no-frills computer costing 645 reais (£170).
The loans will be repayable at about £6 a month. The Computador Popular, which uses the Linux operating system, was designed by a team at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, led by Vale Aguiar Campos.
Some of the most remote parts of the planet will appear in a 24-hour, non-stop webcast this weekend to promote distance education in all its forms. The fifth annual Global Learn Day is an internet event that will feature speakers in all 24 time zones. It is organised by the Franklin Institute, which offers global teaching and work programmes. Speakers include Commonwealth of Learning's president and chief executive Gajaraj Dhanarajan.
Growth in e-learning
Research company IDC has forecast that the European e-learning market will be worth nearly $6 billion (£4.1 million) by 2005. E-learning will account for a quarter of the European information technology training market by then. The market for e-learning in Europe is set to grow by 126 per cent this year.
Some of the United Kingdom's top academics, including Richard Dawkins, Niall Ferguson and Susan Greenfield, will take part in an open forum next Thursday on the use of technology to solve education problems over the next century. The event, at the Royal Institution, will be chaired by Radio 4's Today presenter John Humphrys.
Details: Joanne McNally tel: 020 7482 4000.
Legal action started
Brazil's major distributor of Linux computer software, Conectiva, has begun legal action against the education ministry for unfair competition following the ministry's decision to buy 233,000 Windows-programmed personal computers from Microsoft. The purchase of the computers was originally blocked following the revelation that the education minister's brother is Bill Gates's chief legal adviser in Brazil.
Brazilian educationists are meanwhile urging the exclusive use of Linux in universities and schools because its software is free and it is more consistent with educational needs.