The grants for more than 3,200 primary schools, ranging from €1,800 to €33,000, were announced by Education Minister Batt O’Keeffe and Taoiseach Brian Cowen last month as part of a €150m boost to schools technology over the next three years. A range of funding for second-level schools will be unveiled by the minister early in 2010.
The long-awaited investment has been prompted by the report of a high-level task force to the Government on the need to improve technology in Irish classrooms.
At primary level, every class teacher will get a laptop that can be used to teach pupils and a digital projector will enable them to share lessons with the class.
Although the project was described by the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) as equivalent to providing new cars without roads because of the inadequate broadband access in hundreds of schools, Mr O’Keeffe said the project is hugely worthwhile.
“I attach particular significance to progressing the integration of information communications technology (ICT) in the classroom. The better use of technology in schools is vital to ensuring that students leave with the skills required for the new economy as we seek to regain our competitiveness,” he said.
The advisory group that worked on the ‘Smart Schools = Smart Economy’ report was chaired by Microsoft Ireland’s managing director Paul Rellis. It comprised members of ICT Ireland, the Telecommunications and Internet Federation, the Irish Software Association, the Department of Education, Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, and the National Centre for Technology in Education.