More ICT Funding!
Just as they say, you wait hours for a bus to come along and then two come at once! It seems the same applies to government funding for technology in education, only last week, we were blogging about the long awaited release of ICT Funding to second level schools only to hear yesterday that the Tánaiste has announced a further €24m in funding for ICT infrastructure in primary schools, and all this in the current climate of cuts, cuts and more cuts! 3,300 primary schools across the country are set to benefit from the second phase of funding promised by government as part of the ‘Smart Schools = Smart Economy’ initiative, launched last year by Taoiseach Brian Cowen (more here). Each school will receive a block grant of €1,700 and a payment of €35.70 per capita, specifically available for purchase of hardware infrastructure. All schools will be asked (as with the first phase of funding) to ensure that the recommended baseline equipment of a teaching computer with wireless mouse and keyboard, and a fixed digital projector is installed in every classroom. Once this baseline is achieved schools are free to purchase a wide range of additional hardware including interactive whiteboards, which were of conspicuously absent from last year’s guidelines.
Without doubt this is great news for cash strapped schools and also highlights a genuine commitment to invest in technology for teaching and learning in our schools. When you consider the serious lack of investment since 2000 the significance of over €46m in twelve months specifically for primary schools (albeit hardware focussed) cannot be under estimated. However lets remember that new shiny hardware alone won’t improve technology integration, a clear learning-centred policy for integrating ICTs into the curriculum must exist in every school accompanied by technical support and meaningful curriculum focused professional development in ICTs for all teachers. Thankfully we now have the funding so lets wait and see if the other crucial pieces of the jigsaw can fall into place.