Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Questions (92)

Dara Calleary

Question:

92. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Education if her Department is engaging with National Broadband Ireland to ensure that schools currently devoid of broadband services will be fast-tracked for the National Broadband Scheme; if she will investigate the circumstances of a school (details supplied) in County Mayo with a view to providing the school with an adequate service; her views on whether it is acceptable for any school to be devoid of a stable internet service in 2021; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45281/21]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The policy of my Department is to offer the best quality connectivity to all schools in line with the technical solutions available in the market and within financial constraints. Currently investment of some €13m is allocated annually for the provision of internet connectivity to schools. Broadband capacity can vary across geographical locations and is dependent on local infrastructure which can impact on the service that can be provided in individual schools.

The primary broadband scheme operates off existing infrastructure on the whole and the providers on the Primary Broadband Framework access this infrastructure to deliver the service to the schools. The Department does not put in place such infrastructure.

In relation to the school referred to by the Deputy the school opted to leave the schools broadband programme and it currently has a private connection. If the school is interested in re-joining the schools broadband programme, the school should record their request with the schools broadband service desk and the school will be included in the next available tender for broadband services to schools, at which point the level of connectivity that can be provided can be determined. The Broadband service desk is the Department's dedicated broadband service desk which is managed by the Professional Development Service for Teachers - Technology in Education (PDST-TiE). They can be contacted by phoning 1800334466 or by emailing broadbandservicedesk@pdst.ie.

The school referred to is included in the National Broadband Plan Intervention Area, and my Department is working closely with the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications on the implementation of the National Broadband Plan Intervention area, including the School Connection Points under the Broadband Connection Points programme, all of which will see almost 700 primary schools provided with high speed connectivity by the end of 2022. Implementation of this programme is currently underway.