The strategy includes:
-- A new challenge to industry to pilot emerging superhighway and multimedia technologies in schools and colleges;
-- Advice to be made available to all schools on ICT purchasing and good practice to help them become informed customers and expert users of new technologies; and
Announcing the initiative at the opening of the British Education and Training Technology (BETT) exhibition in London, Ms Shephard said:
'We in government are committed to the development of the information society.
The education departments' superhighways initiative is a vital part of the information society initiative.
It recognised the role of education in spear-heading our national advance into the Information Society, understanding that today's pupils and students are tomorrow's decision makers.
'As a society we have grown used to thinking about IT in terms of desktop computers and software. But to the education world this is far from the case.
Teachers know that IT capability is about what can be done with IT. They know that it is about the enhancement it can deliver to their subjects, what new knowledge IT brings in itself and about understanding its implications for society.
'In education we have gone a step beyond this through the superhighway projects by beginning to develop information and communication technology as a service.
'In the superhighways programme we are considering how we will manage new processes of education and how we can turn access to vast quantities of information into knowledge. That is why education about ICT is so important.'
'The Government's vision is clear. Our aim is to support economic growth and improve Britain's competitiveness and quality of life. Encouraging new ICTs is a key to this. Increasingly they can help people learn in the workplace and at home, and at times that suit themselves.
'It is essential that we get provision right for everyone. That is why we have a range of complementary initiatives.
'Indeed, it is why we are approaching education with particular care and why we want to build progressively on the substantial investment we as a country have already made in educational ICT. And which has made the UK a world leader.
'I urge you all to join us as we work progressively towards the Millennium. With our combined efforts we in Britain have already made great strides in educational technology. Let us carry on in that spirit, to complete the vision that I have outlined today.'