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Information and Communications Technology

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 14 October 2020

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Questions (179)

Seán Haughey


179. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Education if she will proceed without delay with an IT upgrade for a school (details supplied) in order to allow it to continue to provide classes during the Covid-19 pandemic; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30507/20]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Through the Schools Broadband Access Programme the Department provides for the supply of internet connectivity for all recognised primary and post primary schools, and some 98% of schools are included in this scheme. The Department's High Speed Broadband Programme, provides all recognised post-primary schools, high speed broadband with a minimum broadband speed of 100mbs. There are 58 special schools also included in this programme, managed for the Department by HEAnet.

The school referred to by the Deputy has a high speed broadband connection of 100 Mbit/s which is uncontended and symmetrical, meaning this is a dedicated service to the school. Given that this is an uncontended service the school should have 100Mbp/s connectivity. HEAnet is currently conducting an extensive upgrade programme for post-primary schools that has already seen some 47% of schools upgraded to speeds greater that 200Mbp/s. A further 380 post-primary schools are now due an upgrade to that level of connectivity. That will see over 80% of post-primary schools with connections of 200 Mbp/s or higher. This school has already been identified as part of the cohort to be upgraded in the current school year, with work underway to procure that upgraded service.

This upgrade programme is based on demonstrated requirements, and in the current circumstances the system is being closely monitored to prioritise those most in need of the higher speed connectivity, in line with contractual and procurement regulations.

The delivery of high quality internet connectivity for all schools is a key objective of my Department, to support the embedding of digital technologies in teaching and learning. The Schools Broadband Programme is operated by my Department at an annual cost of some €13m.