Some 98pc of Ireland’s primary and secondary schools now have broadband connectivity following an investment of €18m by telecoms companies and the Government in the Schools Broadband Access Programme, the Telecoms and Internet Federation (TIF) said yesterday.
The Schools Broadband Access Programme launched in 2004 is a joint approach between TIF and the Government to ensure that every primary and secondary school in the country has broadband.
They jointly committed €18m to the rollout of broadband to all primary and secondary schools: €15m provided by five member companies of TIF and €3m from Government.
TIF chairman and director of Strategy Vodafone Gerry Fahy explained: “The investment from the telecoms industry has brought broadband to virtually every primary and secondary school in the country.
“High-speed internet access will help modernise and improve the way students are taught. It is hoped that full advantage of this significant resource will be taken to prepare students for the knowledge economy.
“In a world where every business uses computers and the internet, it is essential that students have full access to these technologies,” Fahy added.
The Minister for Education and Science, Mary Hanafin TD said ICT in the classroom is important, both in terms of giving students the opportunity to achieve computer literacy and acquire the necessary skills for participation in the Information Society, and in terms of enhancing the educational experience across the broad range of subjects taught in schools.
“The Schools Broadband Access Programme is a fundamental building block in ensuring that ICT usage becomes embedded in teaching and learning in our schools.
“The programme also provides a wonderful model of partnership between Government and industry and I wish to acknowledge the co-operation and contribution of TIF to the initiative to date and I look forward to developing the partnership into the future,” Hanafin added.
“Broadband is the way of the future,” agreed the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Eamon Ryan TD.
“The Schools Broadband Access Programme marks a significant first step in extending the broadband community across the country. It showcases the possibilities that broadband can bring to the learning generation.
“We will continue to work with industry to provide faster speeds and widespread broadband availability, and new technologies across the country,” Ryan added.
The Broadband to Schools programme will greatly improve the learning experience in schools, explained TIF director Tommy McCabe.
“This, in turn, will help attract the future high-level investment and skilled jobs to the country thus benefiting the wider community as well as delivering value to telecommunications and technology businesses,” McCabe concluded.
By John Kennedy