Media baron Rupert Murdoch on Tuesday urged Internet companies to pull out the stops in developing digital education programmes to revolutionise the world's classrooms.
"Our schools remain the last holdout from the digital revolution," Murdoch told the e-G8 forum of top Internet and media bosses, convened by French President Nicolas Sarkozy ahead of this week's summit of G8 world leaders.
Murdoch, the billionaire boss of the News Corp media empire, complained that pupils are still condemned to dreary "Victorian-age" classrooms despite the potential of the web for revolutionising education.
"In education, we keep the potential of millions of children buried in the ground," said the Australian-born, New York-based businessman, whose holdings include Fox News and the Wall Street Journal.
"Fortunately, we have the means at our disposal to transform lives."
He urged Internet companies to develop more software to tailor schooling to individual pupils' needs through online expert tutorials and computer programmes that can "diagnose" a student's needs and help them learn faster.
"Technology will never replace the teacher," he added. "What we can do is remove some of the drudgery of teaching."
The e-G8 aims to draw up a declaration for the Group of Eight Leaders on the eve of their meeting in Deauville, northwestern France, on Thursday and Friday, with discussions covering sensitive issues such as online copyright.
Murdoch's recent decision to start charging for content on news websites rattled the media world, where companies are struggling to work out how to make money from journalism in the Internet age.
"We hope that the G8 will strongly affirm that the property rights of artists and creators are more than just a matter of protecting cultures," Murdoch told the e-G8 gathering.
"In this new century, they are essential requirements for a dynamic economy and the digital future."
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