90pc of whiteboards in Irish schools paid for by parents

8 Oct 2009

Efforts of parents rather than the Government are responsible for 90pc of the interactive whiteboards deployed in Irish schools.

The statistic masks an even deeper threat for schools in deprived areas or in which not all parents can provide or fund technological support, falling into the digital divide.

Two years ago, Education Minister Mary Hanafin TD, announced a €252-million investment plan to put proper computing resources in Irish schools. Since then, not a penny has been spent on the initiative.

Fund-raising efforts by moms, dads

Today, an interactive whiteboard firm, which has won new business with 50 schools throughout Ireland, revealed that in 90pc of cases where schools have whiteboards in this country, these vital technologies are provided via the fund-raising initiatives of parents.

GDK, a partner of whiteboard manufacturer Promethean, expects to triple its sales in the Irish-education sector as a result of this partnership, which will equate to 50pc of its overall revenues by year end.

GDK expects to introduce Promethean ActivBoards, its interactive whiteboard systems, into a further 25 schools by the end of 2009. 

Proven to significantly raise achievement levels in the classrooms, interactive whiteboards are becoming increasingly popular with teachers and students alike.

The technology allows teachers to easily create digital lessons that brings content and resources to life by incorporating internet, video, text, images and audio to engage learners of every ability and age range.

GDK’s previous work

GDK has worked with St Anne’s School, Fettercairn, Tallaght, to implement Promethean’s interactive learning technology.  Providing primary-level education for 31 years, St Anne’s is embracing 21st-century teaching and learning to its community of 435 pupils, with ages ranging from four to 12 years.

“Promethean’s interactive learning technology has brought a whole new sense of excitement into the classroom,” John Fitzpatrick, principal, St Anne’s School, said.

“Students are more engaged with the lesson material, teachers can create a dynamic learning experience and parents are ecstatic that their children have the opportunity to develop their ICT skills and are becoming more interested in their own learning.”

David Watson, educational sales manager, GDK Network Systems, said: “Like many schools in Ireland, St Anne’s funded the purchase of the ActivBoard interactive whiteboards by organising fund-raising events, in fact almost 90pc of the whiteboards we’ve installed have been funded directly by parent-driven fund-raising initiatives.”

Graham Byrne, head of Ireland, Promethean, said: “The Irish market holds huge potential for Promethean and for our channel-partner network. While the adoption rate of interactive whiteboards in Irish schools is currently lower than our European counterparts, the demand is certainly increasing as interactive technologies are recognised as helping raising levels of achievement in the classroom.”

By John Kennedy

Photo: GDK expects to introduce Promethean ActivBoards, its interactive whiteboard systems, into a further 25 schools by the end of 2009.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years