Ministers Quinn and Rabbitte announce rollout of high speed Broadband to all second level schools

The Minister for Communications, and the Minister for Education and Skills, have announced today (6th February) that all second level schools are to get high speed (100Mbps) broadband.

 

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The Minister for Communications, Energy & Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte T.D. and the Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn T.D. have announced today (6th February) that all second level schools are to get high speed (100Mbps) broadband.

The national roll-out will be completed over three stages with 200 schools being connected by September 2012, a further 200 being connected next year and the remaining 250 schools being connected in 2014.

The programme follows on from the successful pilot project that has been running since 2009. The pilot involved 78 second level schools where the use of broadband has been shown to have improved both teaching and learning.

Commenting on the launch, Minister Quinn said “We need to ensure that appropriate digital technology and high-speed internet are in place in our schools as a basic building block to deliver a 21st Century learning experience to all learners”.

“This major ICT investment in our education system follows on from the commitment in the Programme for Government to incorporate the integration of ICT in teaching and learning across the curriculum and investing in broadband development to ensure schools have access to modern high-speed networks”, he added.

Minister Rabbitte said that “Our second-level schools need industrial strength broadband. Students’ experience of using technology in their everyday lives must be reflected in their learning experiences in schools. We must encourage students and teachers to integrate the possibilities presented by ICT with the traditional teaching methods.

The Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources 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 2013 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.

Speaking at the launch in Coláiste Bríde, Clondalkin, one of the schools involved in the successful pilot project, Minister Rabbitte commented, “The opportunity this morning to see how class room learning can be revolutionised by the availability and adoption of high speed broadband, strengthens my conviction that we are delivering a strategic and worthwhile project that will deliver significant long-term results from both an economic and social perspective.

“Despite our current economic difficulties, this significant investment in our current and future generation of school-children is money well spent.”

An evaluation of the pilot concluded that: “It is clear that the 100Mbps has had a very positive impact on learning and teaching in schools and the 78 schools have made enormous progress in ICT integration in their classrooms within a very short timeframe. Teachers are highly motivated and there is a greater enthusiasm about using ICT with teachers working at department level to share ideas, resources and support their colleagues.”

The introduction of high speed broadband will a major impact on how teachers use ICT in their teaching. There is evidence that online 3D simulations and animations significantly and quickly assist the learner towards a thorough understanding of mathematical and scientific concepts. Modern languages, technology subjects, business and liberal studies are equally enhanced through access to chosen digital content and communication platforms. 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 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 (VLE’s) and Blogs; and
  • Enabling the introduction of digital textbooks as the 100Mb will facilitate classroom access;


Under this programme all second-level schools will have 100Mbps broadband installed by the end of 2014 – 200 in 2012, 200 in 2013 and the final 250 schools in 2014.

The provision of service to the schools to be connected in 2012 will be on foot of a tender competition under an established Framework Agreement and will be undertaken by HEAnet on behalf of the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and the Department of Education and Skills.

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 and the National Centre for Technology in Education in conjunction with core services supplied by ESB Telecom.

HEAnet has built and will maintain the network on behalf of the Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources. The National Centre for Technology in Education is charged with the integration of ICT within schools. They will also provide front line support for the staff of the schools.

ESB Telecoms has provided backhaul from regional locations to Dublin.

The Project has been co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)

All post-primary schools in the following 14 counties will have 100Mbps broadband installed in 2012:

Cavan
Louth
Clare
Mayo
Donegal
Monaghan
Galway
Offaly
Laois
Roscommon
Leitrim
Sligo
Longford
Westmeath