Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Questions (369)

Charlie McConalogue


369. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to fund ICT in primary schools in view of the removal by his Department of the minor repairs grant from which schools were authorised to fund ICT purchases. [32117/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Integrating ICT into teaching and learning in schools remains a priority for this Government. My Department's ICT in Schools programme sets out a clear agenda to be pursued in this regard, focusing on four main priorities: ICT Infrastructure in schools, the Schools Broadband Programme, the development of teacher skills, and the provision of curriculum-relevant digital content. On the infrastructure side, my Department distributed more than €90m in ICT Infrastructure grants to schools nationwide in 2009 and 2010. The priority under this grant scheme was the equipping of all classrooms with a digital projector, teaching computer and wireless keyboard and mouse. This ICT infrastructure grant scheme is now fully disbursed. In view of budgetary pressures there are no plans to introduce a new Infrastructure Grant Scheme. However, my Department continues to fund the various elements of the ICT schools programme. Work has commenced on the development of a new ICT Strategy for schools. The new ICT Strategy will address the new policy challenges and opportunities arising from major developments in curricular reform, digital publishing, portable computing and student devices.

While the works covered under the Minor Works Scheme include the purchase of IT related equipment, I stated when the Minor Works Grant last issued in November 2011 for the school year 2011/2012, that given the need to focus on meeting the demand for additional school places, it was unlikely that funding would be available for the Minor Works Grant in the coming years. This is borne out by the fact that in 2012, 85% of the capital expenditure in the school sector was in respect of large scale projects, additional accommodation and prefab replacement. The balance was expended on site acquisition, emergency works, furniture and equipment provision and commitments arising from earlier years. The capital allocation that is available for the school sector in 2013 is expected to have a similar spend pattern as was the case in 2012 and at this time there are no plans to reinstate the Minor Works Grant. I can inform the Deputy that in the case of new schools, extensions and additional accommodation a sum of €5,000 is allocated by my Department for the provision of ICT in respect of each new classroom delivered.