Show me the money!
1 April 2005 | 0
Since the launch of the School’s IT 2000 programme in November 1997, over EUR100 million of capital grant aid has been provided to Primary and Secondary schools for ICT infrastructure development. Now with over 60,000 computers in schools, this support has undoubtedly gone along way to help infuse ICTs into our curriculum. The extent of this development, however, varies greatly from school to school, with grant expenditure left almost entirely at each school’s discretion.
A cause for particular concern is that the last phase of ICT grants was issued in May 2002 and since then, not a jot of support has been forthcoming. The Department issued a Capital Grant request form to all schools last May, but to date nothing has come of this. Recently, after reflecting on our less than favourable school IT bank statement, we rang NCTE to enquire about future capital funding. It had no information to hand and suggested we ring the Department’s ICT Policy unit. This we duly did, to little avail, as the person dealing with our query had only recently moved to the unit. However they did promise to get someone who was in the know to call me later that day. Needless to say, three weeks latter we’ve heard nothing.
This of course isn’t anything new as uncertainty about ICT funding has plagued schools for years now and has lead, we believe, to a major loss in momentum in the integration of new technologies into Irish schools.
Maybe the Department isn’t aware, that computers, unlike blackboards need more than a coat of paint every few years! Continual investment is required to maintain current infrastructure and to keep pace with new developments. Is it too much to expect an annual IT grant similar to the standard capitation grant? Or should we be content to continue with occasional Government benevolence. We would suggest the former is imperative, coupled with a clear long-term strategy for ICT in schools. Without this, future progress will be severely inhibited.