THE Government’s infrastructural investment in education comprises old promises on school places with insufficient spending on information technology, it has been claimed.
As part of its Infrastructure Investment Priorities 2010-2016 document, the Government said it intends to invest €3.1 billion in upgrading and expanding the primary and secondary school networks.
“This will ensure we meet the continuing demand for more primary school places which is driven by demographic trends,” it said. “The investment will see new schools being built where they are most needed and will also deliver small-scale improvement works.”
The money will be spent on the creation of 70,000 additional permanent places in primary schools by 2016.
Of those, 35,000 will be delivered in existing primary schools, and 35,000 will come on stream through the construction of new schools.
At post-primary level, the intention is to create 15,000 additional permanent places through the construction of new schools.
However, the Irish National Teachers Organisation said the construction plans announced were already known and it was about time the Government actually acted on beginning the comprehensive school buildings’ programme.
The INTO was even more scathing about the Government’s investment plans in the area of information technology.
The document states that in excess of €250 million will be invested in ICT in schools.
“This investment will build on the improvements over the last 10 years and will be focussed in the areas where it can have the most advantageous effect on educational outcomes,” it said.
The Government says it is committed to ensuring that over the next two years, 730 secondary schools will have “hyper-fast broadband”.
However, according to the INTO that is simply not good enough.
It said that children should not have to wait up to 15 years to get access to such high-speed internet in secondary schools.
It said investment should also be made in introducing the technology in primary schools.
“Primary school students are having to power down when they get to school,” a union spokesman said.
In the last two weeks it emerged that only 2% of all schools in Ireland, 78 out of 4,000, have high-speed broadband.
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