Oscar-winning producer Lord David Puttnam named Ireland’s Digital Champion

17 Dec 2012

Lord David Puttnam

Ten-time Academy Award-winner Lord David Puttnam, who has 26 BAFTAs and a Palm D’Or to his name and who lives in Skibbereen, Co Cork, has been named Ireland’s Digital Champion by Communications Minister Pat Rabitte, TD.

Puttnam, who is on the board of education technology firm Promethean, as well as producer of movies like The Mission, Memphis Belle and Chariots of Fire, founded the National Teaching Awards in the UK, chaired NESTA and is chancellor of the Open University body in the UK.

Puttnam, an ardent proponent of education reform, also advises the Singapore government on digital policy and was digital adviser to the previous Labour government in the UK.

In previous interviews with Siliconrepublic.com, Puttnam has argued that countries can no longer take a triage approach to education policy and has argued that digital technology will lead to massive upheaval in how education is delivered.

“I have asked David to be an ambassador for digital in Ireland,” Rabbitte said this afternoon.

Time to think differently

“We all need to be challenged, to be imaginative about how digital technologies and digital media can improve our quality of life, our skills, our health, our education, our employability and our prosperity.

“Through his careers in cinema, broadcasting and teaching, David has always been a genuine champion and early adopter of digital technologies. He is passionate about their ability to positively transform society, for example, in education.

“I am encouraging him to provoke us to think differently about how we use telecommunications in the home, in the wider economy, in learning and in delivering public services to citizens of all ages,” Rabbitte said.

Rabbitte said the appointment of a Digital Champion was timely, particularly as Ireland assumes the Presidency of the Council of the European Union and a number of member states already have digital champions.

The minister added that it is his intention to publish a National Digital Strategy in the new year which will highlight the potential of digital to transform society.

The first phase of the strategy will target specific segments of society, aiming to improve digital adoption and realise the economic and social benefits that digital technologies can bring.

“The appointment of David as Ireland’s Digital Champion is a key measure under the proposed National Digital Strategy. He has long been an evangelist for digital adoption, particularly in the education sector, and I hope that he will bring his considerable expertise and vision to this important policy initiative,” Rabbitte said.

Lord Putttnam

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