Written Answers. - School Curriculum.

Billy Timmins

Question:

42 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Education and Science if all primary schools have been furnished with computers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21684/02]

The Government recognises the need to ensure that pupils in every school have the opportunity to become computer literate and develop the necessary skills for participation in the information society. Accordingly, it has been our policy to provide schools with the necessary computer facilities; ensure that teachers have the appropriate skills in information and communications technologies, ICT; and promote the integration of ICT in the curriculum.

In furtherance of this policy my Department has since 1998 provided more than €100 million in funding to facilitate the acquisition and development of computer facilities within first and second level schools. In addition, a range of support services, including teacher training programmes and innovative school ICT projects have been funded through the National Centre for Technology in Education as part of this initiative.

The results to date have been very positive in terms of enhancing access to and the use of ICT resources in teaching and learning. A national census of schools undertaken in 2000 indicated that there were approximately 60,000 multimedia computers in Irish first and second level schools at that time – an increase of 65% since 1998. This translates into an average of almost nine computers per primary school, and 43 computers per post-primary school. Pupil-computer ratios stood at 18:1 at primary level and 13:1 at second level. Internet access has also improved considerably with all schools having an Internet connection since early 1999.

Moreover, the report of the National Policy Advisory and Development Committee, NPADC, which last year undertook an evaluation of the Schools IT 2000 programme, concluded that the results of the programme had been very encouraging and indicate demonstrable progress in the development of ICT as a teaching and learning resource within schools. Marked improvements were recorded in the availability of the necessary infrastructure, in teacher participation in ICT training and in the active use of ICT by both teachers and pupils.

My Department will shortly undertake a new census of schools to provide an update of progress achieved under the schools ICT initiatives. The results of this census will be available in the new year.