Govt to give 698 schools €20m to buy ICT equipment

15 Oct 2010

The Government has revealed the next phase of its €150m Smart Schools = Smart Economy Strategy and has followed up on last year’s €23.3m investment in hardware with a further €20.7m in grants for 698 schools to buy ICT equipment.

The move – part of the Government strategy “to make technology an integral part of the learning process” – will see post-primary schools across Ireland each receive a base grant of €1,700 and a payment of €63.45 to buy equipment.

Schools based in socially disadvantaged areas – designated DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools) – will receive a higher basic grant of €2,550.

The Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Science Mary Coughlan spoke of the Government’s commitment to the Smart Schools = Smart Economy plan. “I am very conscious of the need to boost schools’ ICT capacity and I want to ensure that technology becomes an integral part of the learning process at an early age.

“These grants demonstrate this Government’s commitment to providing the kind of high-tech hardware required to fulfil that objective.”

The next phase of Smart Schools = Smart Economy

“The grants represent a next phase in our implementation of the Smart Schools = Smart Economy Report and the 2008 ICT Strategy Report. A similar announcement of €22.3m in ICT grants was provided to primary schools last year.

“These new grants will enable post-primary schools throughout the country to equip their classrooms with appropriate technology, to enhance teaching and learning and to help meet the needs of the ‘smart economy’. This is a strong signal that this Government is committed to equipping our classrooms with the latest technology,” Coughlan said.

ICT Ireland, the IBEC group that represents the high-tech sector, welcomed the funding announcement by the Tánaiste for ICT equipment in schools. The announcement represents the next phase in funding through the Smart Schools = Smart Economy initiative, a strategy produced by ICT Ireland in conjunction with several Government departments.

Paul Sweetman, director of ICT Ireland, said: “Much greater use of technology in the classroom is required. This funding, along with the €22m released in November 2009, will significantly improve the use of ICT in the classroom and enhance the learning experience for students in all subjects.”

Paul Rellis, managing director of Microsoft Ireland and chair of the ICT in schools implementation steering group, said: “The continued investment in ICT in schools will help Ireland regain its position as a competitive, successful economy. The better use of technology in schools is vital to ensuring that students leave with the skills needed to participate fully in today’s modern economy.”

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