Ruane announces £46 million ICT investment for schools
Sinn Féin Education Minister Caitríona Ruane, today viewed some of the new ICT equipment being rolled out to primary schools across the north of Ireland as part of a major 'refresh' programme.
During a visit to Hazelwood Integrated Primary School in North Belfast, Ms Ruane met with pupils using the new equipment, installed as part of a £46million upgrade. The upgrade, being carried out by Northgate Information Solutions as part of the ongoing Classroom 2000 project, will provide up-to-date replacement equipment along with improved network access and security, video-conferencing facilities to allow collaboration between schools and enhanced software resources.
Speaking during her visit, Ms Ruane spoke of the importance of ICT in children's education and said: "Every child in our schools, regardless of ability, background, or even the type of school they attend, deserves to avail of the best opportunities available. We are already considered to be a leader in the use of ICT in education and today I have seen how we can build on those strong foundations.
"Both the scale of investment and the nature of the upgrade will provide our children with unrivalled opportunities to avail of the most up to date technologies in school. The new video conferencing facilities, for example, will not only provide schools with the ability to collaborate with others across the north of Ireland to deliver the curriculum, but will also serve to widen children's horizons through the ability to forge closer working relationships with counterparts on an all-Ireland basis and indeed further afield."
As an extension to the contract to refresh the primary school equipment, over 20,000 laptops will also be rolled out to all schools in the current school year to address increasing ICT demands. A further 5,000 laptops are being provided to primary schools to support the new assessment and reporting arrangements. Nursery schools will, for the first time, receive ICT equipment to assist with administrative tasks and to allow electronic communication between schools and other stakeholders.
Ms Ruane continued: "I am committed to ensuring that schools have the tools they need to fully deliver the revised curriculum to their pupils. This investment will provide all schools, from nursery up to post-primary and including special schools, with the technology they need to help them do that." ENDS
NOTES TO EDITORS:
- Classroom 2000 (C2k) is the major project to provide the information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure needed to ensure that the young people in our schools acquire the knowledge and skills they need for the emerging "Information Society".
- All schools receive a "core" managed service, dependent on the number of pupils, at no additional costs to their budgets. Schools can enhance and extend this core service further out of their own budgets, should they so wish.
- C2k is being delivered through a series of Public/Private Partnership (PPP) contracts, due to the fact that the private sector is playing an active role in sharing the "risk" element. The Western Education and Library Board (WELB) are the contracting authority for C2k. This brings the total invested in C2k to date up to £282million.
- The contract is for the refresh of the ICT equipment which was originally installed in all primary schools between November 2001 and December 2002.