Irish schools losing out in European digital divide – Crowe
Speaking today Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Seán Crowe TD claimed "Ireland is on the wrong side of Europe's digital divide when it comes to the quality of Information Communication Technology provision in our schools."
Speaking today the Dublin South-West TD said, "The Government are merely paying lip service to creating and maintaining Ireland's competitiveness through a so-called knowledge economy. While the vast majority of schools have broadband internet access they are being forced to use computers and equipment that is obsolete. If there are problems with broadband a significant number of schools do not have the funds to afford technical support and assistance. According to the National Centre for Technology one-fifth of computers are more than six year old.
"It is unacceptable that the majority of schools are still forced into organising their own fundraising to purchase ICTs. The days of school kids collecting hundreds of supermarket receipts in return for computers should surely be over. Eighty three percent of all computers, printers, networks, cameras, projectors and other equipment and software in use in our schools have been paid for by parents or through fundraising. The Government's new ICT commitments for schools under the National Development Plan fall far short of what is required. The Government are providing a meagre €46 per student per year, substantially lower than the recommended €130 to €140.
"Ireland compares unfavourably with other countries in terms of our computer: student ratios, with one computer for every nine students. We should be aiming for the EU norm of one for every five.
"Sinn Féin supports the provision of laptops for teachers to enhance motivation, teaching and learning and to promote greater ICT usage in classrooms."