OECD slams poor use of ICT in Irish schools

3 Feb 2004

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has expressed disappointment at the poor use of ICT in Irish secondary schools, with only one computer per 13 students, far below the average of one for every nine students in 14 OECD countries.

As well as Ireland, the OECD survey looked at the use of ICT in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Hungary, Italy, Korea, Mexico, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. The survey examined issues like classroom organisation, teachers’ scheduling time and teachers’ professional development as well as computing.

Despite large sums of money spent on ICT, fewer than 20pc of students attend schools where there are enough workstations for every teacher to have one. In 11 out of 14 countries surveyed, a shortage of computers for students was cited as one of the biggest obstacles for greater ICT use.

Only a minority of teachers across countries regularly use standard computer applications, according to headmasters, and only in Denmark, Sweden and Korea do the proportions reach 60pc. In addition, headmasters say that recruiting ICT teachers is by far the most difficult recruitment problem they face across all school subjects.

The one single area where Ireland appeared to excel was in the area of career guidance. Ireland joined Denmark, Korea and Finland as one of the countries where 80pc of students receive individual career counselling in the last year of their secondary school programmes.

Another area in which Ireland excelled was the success of filling vacant posts with fully qualified staff. Ireland and Belgium (Flanders) were the only countries where 95pc or more of students attend schools that fill vacancies with fully qualified staff.

By John Kennedy