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HK helps low-wage families get online

A DISTRICT cyber center pilot scheme was launched in Hong Kong yesterday to help young people from low-income families access information and online services.

The first phase will support 14 centers and provide about 250 computers, along with Internet connections, computing facilities, training programs and technical support.

A laptop library will also be established. About 250 laptop computers will be available for loan.

The scheme has been implemented by the District Cyber Centers Alliance formed by Cyberport Management Co, the Council of Social Service and the Internet Professional Association.

They will jointly boost the capacity of existing and new district-based cyber centers in the scheme by improving branding, coordination and support networks.

At yesterday's opening ceremony, Hong Kong Financial Secretary John Tsang said the alliance will help form a focal point for donations, as well as technology and expert knowledge.

"This will provide more effective and better quality services to those in need," he said, adding that he hopes the alliance will attract more centers to join at a later stage.

Nearly 75 percent of Hong Kong households had personal computers as of last year. Of those, 95 percent also had Internet access. However, only 37 percent of families earning less than HK$10,000 (US$1,290) a month had personal computers at home. Thus, there was room for improvement in information and communications technology usage in some communities.


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