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British government Internet plan a joke as secondary schools denied Internet training

17 May, 2006

Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Michael Ferguson MLA has welcomed the British government's adult learner week initiative, 'The Internet made Easy CD' which will send an a disc to every home to demonstrate that'. The internet is for everyone, but we need to help people understand the world wide web'.

However Michael Ferguson has pointed out that poverty denies a huge number of homes the opportunity own a computer and that direct rule ministers closed the 'LearnDirect' scheme with tutor support in areas worst affected by poverty and that from June 2006 they are ending the delivery of ECDL to Secondary Schools by the FE sector while boasting of a new 'new entitlement framework' for all Key Stage 4 pupils in partnership with the FE Sector.

Commenting upon the British Government's current initiative and the role of EGSA (Educational Guidance Service for Adults) Michael Ferguson said:

"This government under direct rule ministers does not know whether it is coming or going. This latest e-Strategy initiative is an example of this, yet it is hardly surprising given that we have had 4 ministers in 3 years with the last only spending 37 days here to cover 4 departments.

"This latest initiative comes after the Department of Employment and Learning cut the LearnDirect programmes in areas worst affected by poverty where ownership of computers with Internet linkages is low. This June despite the promises of new partnerships between schools and FE colleges to delivery a wider curriculum the Belfast Institute for Further and Higher Education will end its delivery of ECDL tutoring to all Secondary Schools.

"In the this current financial year EGSA, who are identified in this latest British government press release as a point of contact for information, had their own Essential Skills budget cut by £200k despite the growing literacy and numeracy difficulties that are currently affecting 2 out of every 10 adults and 20,000 young people every year who leave school with no qualifications at all.

"This confusion and lack of co-ordinated thinking is why the DUP need to demonstrate political leadership, in the interests of own community, and join with the rest of us in electing local accountable ministers next Monday when the Assembly meets to nominate a First and Deputy First Minister." ENDS

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