Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 13 July 2014

20m euro high-tech fund for schools

Tanaiste Mary Coughlan announced a fund to equip post-primary schools with high-tech equipment

More than 20 million euro worth of grants for high-tech equipment are to be handed out to schools over the coming days.

Education Minister Mary Coughlan said the funds for 698 post-primary schools was the next phase of the Smart Schools = Smart Economy scheme, launched last November.

She maintained the payments were part of the Government's strategy to make technology an integral part of the learning process.

"These new grants will enable post-primary schools throughout the country to equip their classrooms with appropriate technology, to enhance teaching and learning and to help meet the needs of the Smart Economy," said Tanaiste Ms Coughlan.

"This is a strong signal that this Government is committed to equipping our classrooms with the latest technology."

Post-primary schools throughout the country will each receive a base grant of 1,700 euro and a payment of 63.45 euro per pupil, which will enable the schools to purchase equipment. DEIS schools, which support areas of educational disadvantage, will receive a higher basic grant of 2,550 euro.

Ms Coughlan said she was conscious of the need to boost schools' ICT capacity. "I want to ensure that technology becomes an integral part of the learning process at an early age," she added.

The latest investment brings the total equipment grant outlay under the ICT in schools programme to more than 43m euro over the past twelve months. A further tranche of ICT grants to primary schools is expected to be announced shortly.

Paul Sweetman of ICT Ireland, the IBEC group that represents the high-tech sector, said much greater use of technology in the classroom is required.

"This funding, along with the 22 million euro released in November 2009, will significantly improve the use of ICT in the classroom and enhance the learning experience for students in all subjects," said Mr Sweetman.

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