Speaking points by Minister Denis Naughten T.D. at the School Digital Champion Showcase Event
Opening Remarks/Greetings Cead Mile Fáilte to the School Digital Champion showcase event, particularly to the students and teachers who have travelled from all over the country to be here today. Today is your day, it is about recognising your talents and the hard work that you have put into completing your projects over the last few months. My Department is pleased to partner with the Department of Education and Skills to deliver the School Digital Champion and I welcome officials from their ICT Policy unit here today along with colleagues from the Professional Development Service for Teachers. I would also like to acknowledge the goodwill, expertise and support provided to the Programme during the year by Eirgrid, Google, Kuka Robotics, Microsoft, RTÉ, Samsung, Twitter and Pam and the Youth Media Team who you will see are busy conducting interviews here today. The programme would not be delivering the results we see here today without all of your support, so thank you. School Digital Champion Programme The School Digital Champion Programme was launched nationally in 2016/2017 and facilitates project-based learning which allows students to make a real difference to their school, local business and wider community through the productive use of digital technology and data sources. This year we have seen a 25% increase in the number of schools participating, 83 schools submitted 109 project proposals and appointed over 400 students as School Digital Champions. We know that rapid advancement in technology and increased global competition mean that digital skills for our future workforce are more critical than ever. I would like to congratulate each and everyone of you here today, the range of projects on display is truly outstanding from: Maps and information videos for first years Video to raise awareness of autism helping people to understand how autism affects those who have it App to connect the community to local business Language app to help students with history focussed on students who are studying English as an additional language A number of projects raising awareness about online safety Online Safety As you all know the internet brings enormous benefits, but also risks. We're all aware of some of these risks, including bullying, sharing information with strangers, having a picture of you shared without your permission etc. Online safety is a subject that I am passionate about as Minister, and I am delighted that Webwise are here to speak after me. What is clear to me about Online Safety, is that no one person, organisation, company, teacher or parent has the answer. No one action can "fix the internet" and make us all safe. We must all work together, and that is why 7 Government Departments were involved in the Open Policy Debate on Online Safety in March. In total 120 people attended from various different interest groups, but some of the most profound and thoughtful comments came from the members of the webwise.ie youth advisory panel. I think it is hugely important that we listen to you, young people for whom this technology is second nature. Sometimes we can talk down to you, but this is one area where we need to talk to you and listen to what your experience is. Webwise have a key role to play in tackling online safety, because one of the most important tools we have is education – we must educate you as children, but we must also educate our teachers and me as a parent, in the proper ways of keeping ourselves and our children safe online. This is an area that the Taoiseach takes very seriously, and he has indicated that the Government will prepare an Action Plan on Online Safety. This plan will involve numerous Government Departments and agencies and my Department will play its part in making the internet a safer place for all of us.
National Broadband Plan In order to maximise the benefits of these projects quality high speed internet access must be available. Today's students may not be familiar with the tone of the dial-up modem that provided the first slow internet access to many people in Ireland from 20 years ago to relatively recent times. This does not mean that you haven't experienced the frustration of accessing the internet using slow services. My Department has a plan which will ensure that this is no longer an issue. The National Broadband Plan is underway. This will deliver high speed broadband services to every city, town, village, school, house and business in Ireland. This is being achieved through a combination of commercial investment by the telecoms operators and a subsidised State intervention in areas where no commercial investment has taken place. On this day 2 years ago five in ten homes and businesses throughout Ireland had access to high speed broadband. Today seven in ten, premises throughout the country can get access to high speed broadband. This will rise to over 90% by 2020. My Department has created a Map which is available on www.broadband.gov.ie I would encourage you all to have a look at it. You can enter your address or Eircode to see when you will receive access to high speed broadband. With nine out of ten jobs requiring digital skills it is now more important than ever that learning becomes something that happens both inside and outside of the school. Congratulations on being selected School Digital Champions you should be proud o of the work you have done. I ask you to continue to share your skills within your school, with your families and your community to contribute actively to society by using your digital skills as an enabler for positive change. I wish you all the very best for the future
Section: Communications Topic: Digital Strategy