herald

Sunday 11 December 2016

€210m digital plan for broadband in schools 'too vague'

Education

Sheila Nunan attacked plan
Sheila Nunan attacked plan

Plans for a €210m investment in digital learning in schools and the national roll-out of high-speed broadband to all primary schools has been criticised by one of the country's largest teachers' unions as "vague".

Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan yesterday unveiled the government's digital strategy for schools, which will run over the next five years.

Training

In addition to the roll-out of high-speed broadband, funding to purchase new IT equipment will also be released in tranches - though the first €30m will not be available until next year.

Leaving Cert students will now be able to undertake an in-depth ICT (information and communications technology) course and there will also be continuous training for teachers in how to use the technology.

The strategy was launched at the Mercy Secondary School in Inchicore in Dublin 8.

In a video message played at yesterday's launch, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said digital learning would encourage more students to go on and study maths, engineering and science courses in third level.

Ms O'Sullivan said decisions in regard to how much money will go to individual schools will be made over the coming year and a range of factors will be considered.

"Different schools are in different places. Some don't have high-speed broadband at all, others do. Some have a lot of IT equipment, others don't, so we're going to work out what each school needs. We don't have a set amount for each school at this stage," she said.

The investment is the first of its kind in years, but the Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO) general secretary Sheila Nunan said the plan is "vague" and failed to address key concerns.

"This plan appears to presume that poor connectivity is a rural problem. Poor broadband in primary schools is an urban and a rural problem," Ms Nunan said.

"There is no detail of the funding that will be provided. Schools want to know the 'when' and 'how much', so that they can plan properly."

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