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Ministers announce roll-out of the third and final phase of high speed broadband to second level schools

Dublin, 6 January 2014
The Minister for Communications, Energy & Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte T.D. and the Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn T.D. announced today that every second level school in Ireland will have access to 100Mbp/s connectivity by the beginning of the 2014/2015 school year.

The Ministers made this statement as they launched the final stage of the national roll-out of the 100Mbp/s broadband connectivity to all second-level schools. With high speed broadband already installed in 516 schools through the project, today’s announcement details a further 270 schools to be connected across 9 Southern Counties (Carlow, Cork, Kerry, Kilkenny, Limerick, Tipperary, Waterford, Wexford and Wicklow) throughout 2014.

Minister Rabbitte said “Completing the final phase of the national programme will mean that all our post-primary schools have been equipped with top class, future proofed broadband. This will enable and motivate them to grasp the teaching and learning opportunities that the internet provides. This Government made a commitment in the Programme for Government to incorporate ICT in teaching and learning across the curriculum and this investment in connectivity is a cornerstone in making that a reality.

Since the rollout began, we have seen that the educational experience is enriched, engagement is better and that autonomous learning and enquiry is facilitated through the innovative use of technology.”

The final phase of the 100Mbp/s Schools Network announced today will assist and influence the direction of the new Digital Strategy in our Schools recently announced by the Minister for Education and Skills.

Commenting on the announcement of the final stage in the National rollout of high speed broadband, Minister Quinn said, “Broadband is the foundation on which we can build and support the use of technology in the classroom to improve teaching and learning. I am delighted that by the beginning of the next school year every second level school in the country will have access to high speed internet. The development of the new Digital Strategy for Schools, which I recently launched, will give schools the roadmap as to how to optimise use of technology in the classroom. The Department of Education & Skills is developing this Strategy in consultation with schools, parents, industry and academics.”
ENDS

Note to editors:

The introduction of high speed broadband will have a major impact on how teachers use ICT in their teaching. The benefit of having this bandwidth available in schools includes:

  • Empowering teachers to explore the use of ICT in the learning and teaching process;
  • Enabling sharing and collaborating online within their own schools, with other schools, with universities and with expertise in curriculum areas;
  • Enabling the use of video conferencing and use of Skype or other online communication tools;
  • Encouraging the use of online learning and teaching spaces such as Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) and Blogs.
Under this programme all second-level schools will have 100Mbps broadband installed by the end of 2014 – 202 in 2012, 236 in 2013 and the final 270 schools in 2014 – building on the 78 schools which were involved in the pilot scheme.

This project is the result of cooperation between the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and the Department of Education and Skills, the Higher Education Authority, HEAnet (appointed through a tender competition) and the Professional Development Service for Teachers – Technology in Education, in conjunction with core services supplied by ESB Telecom.

The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (DCENR) is funding all of the capital costs of this project, estimated to be approximately €11m, as well as contributing some €10m in current costs for the years 2012 to 2015. The Department of Education & Skills (DES) will fund the remaining current costs (estimated to be some €20m up to 2015). DES will also fund the on-going costs on an annual basis into the future.

HEAnet has built and will maintain the network on behalf of the Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources. The Technology in Education section of the Professional Development Service for Teachers is charged with the integration of ICT within schools. They will also provide front line support for the staff of the schools. ESB Telecoms provides backhaul from regional locations to Dublin. The Project has been co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

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