Almost half of Irish parents believe low-quality broadband hinders children’s learning

24 Aug 2017

Kids using computers. Image: Cultura Motion/Shutterstock

Ireland’s broadband lets students down, according to new research.

A new survey has dredged up some telling statistics about the effect that broadband availability has on the educational prospects of children in Ireland.

The online research was carried out on behalf of Pure Telecom by Censuswide, surveying parents of primary and secondary school children from a group of 1,001 adults. The research found that 16pc of the average child’s homework relies on the internet, and parents are forking out €213 on average per child on internet-connected tools and devices intended for schoolwork.

It’s clear that parents in Ireland place a high value on the internet when it comes to the education of their children, with two-thirds of those surveyed viewing it as a key learning support, and many even considering it as a factor in choosing their child’s school.

‘Unfortunately, until the National Broadband Plan is implemented, we will continue to see schoolchildren hindered by poor internet speeds and lack of access’

Although 48pc of children regularly use laptops or other devices for at least some of their classes, one-in-four parents believe schools are lagging when it comes to encouraging the use of online educational resources.

Earlier this year, the government rolled out 100Mbps broadband to all post-primary schools in Ireland, and the Digital Strategy for Schools 2015-2020 Action Plan 2017 was also launched by the Minister for Education and Skills Richard Bruton, TD. The Action Plan includes €30m in ICT grants earmarked for schools and a programme to enhance high-speed connectivity at primary level.

Children outside Dublin bearing the brunt of the effects

Pure Telecom CEO Paul Connell said: “Access to internet-connected digital tools and resources is vital for all children living in a modern society, so it is concerning that so many parents believe their child’s educational achievement is being stunted by poor broadband speeds and access in school.”

Rural parts of the country suffer the most from the broadband gap, added Connell. “Not surprisingly, our research showed that the majority of those parents are living in areas outside of Dublin.”

He added: “It is great to see the Government investing in a digital strategy for schools, including technologies such as interactive screens and cloud-based learning tools.”

National Broadband Plan

“The availability of high-speed broadband in all – not just secondary – schools across Ireland will be crucial to its success,” said Connell.

In a digital society, broadband access is a basic need for all Irish citizens, no matter where in the country they live. Connell stressed the need for the prompt roll-out of the National Broadband Plan “in order to provide broadband to Ireland’s harder-to-reach locations”.

He warned: “Unfortunately, until the National Broadband Plan is implemented, we will continue to see schoolchildren hindered by poor internet speeds and lack of access.”

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects