ICT Ireland blasts schools’ tech progress

25 Oct 2006

ICT Ireland has criticised the Government for lack of progress in boosting technology in schools and has called on Minister for Education Mary Hanafin TD to make investment in ICT in education a priority.

ICT Ireland, the IBEC group that represents the high-tech sector, was responding to a statistical report on ICT infrastructure in schools that was published today by the National Centre for Technolgoy in Education (NCTE).

The NCTE report found that in 2005 for every computer in primary schools there were 9.1 pupils, in post-primary schools there were seven and in special schools there were 3.1.

The ratios are lower than in 2002, when they were 11.3, 7.4 and 3.8 respectively.

ICT Ireland rounded on the fact that with a pupil-computer ratio of seven to one at post-primary level Ireland has improved only marginally in the past three years and is still behind the OECD average.

“The Government got off to a good start in the late Nineties on planning ICT in schools,” said ICT Ireland executive Hannah Grene. “Since 2003, however, there has been no strategic plan to improve the use of technology in education. The results of this loss of momentum are clearly shown in the NCTE report.”

The report found that more than 10,000 computers in primary schools are in need of upgrade or repair for use and over 5,500 are beyond repair or use. That means that one in four of computers in primary schools are not currently in working order, said ICT Ireland. In post-primary schools, the ratio is one in five. Of the working computers, 29pc of computers in primary schools and 19pc of post-primary schools are over six years old.

“The figures are a disgrace,” commented Grene. “As a wealthy country that prides itself on being at the forefront of the knowledge economy, we should be offering
our children the best possible education and the skills they need to succeed. Irish students are being placed at a significant disadvantage due to the failure to exploit technology.”

“We are currently working with the Department of the Taoiseach and Intel on home computing initiatives to provide packages of hardware, software and training to citizens. We would be delighted to work in a similar fashion with the Department of Education and we call on Minister Hanafin to establish a dialogue with industry to provide world-class ICT to our students,” she concluded.

By Niall Byrne