Dáil Éireann - Volume 547 - 31 January, 2002

Written Answers. - Information Technology Initiative.

  43. Mrs. Barnes asked the Minister for Education and Science his proposals to evaluate the impact of the information technology initiative in schools and to assess student competence with computers. [2847/02]

  Minister for Education and Science (Dr. Woods): The National Policy Advisory and Development Committee, NPADC, was established in 1998 to advise the Minister for Education and Science on ICT policy for schools. My Department recently published the report of the NPADC in which it evaluates the impact of Schools IT2000 on schools. Comparing the situation to that which existed beforehand, the results are highly encouraging and chart demonstrable and impressive progress in the introduction of ICT into schools. Marked increases have been demonstrated in the areas of increased availability of necessary infrastructure, the use of ICT by the teaching profession across all school functions, its use by pupils and teacher participation in ICT training. Copies of this report are available and I will ensure that one is sent to the Deputy.

  In relation to assessment, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, NCCA, is examining the issues related to specifying desirable levels of competence which students should reach in using ICT. At primary level, the NCCA has already piloted guidelines on integrating ICT into the teaching and learning environment. These are being revised, taking account of comprehensive feedback from teachers.

  The next stage of the process of developing provision for ICT will be to identify, in conjunction with the NCCA, the range of skills and conceptual understanding that pupils should attain through their engagement with ICT right across the curriculum at different levels of education, particularly by the end of the period of compulsory education. This will draw on the best of international practice in this area.

  At leaving certificate level, the NCCA is in the final stages of preparing advice to me on the advisability of introducing a computer-based subject at leaving certificate level. This advice will draw upon a feasibility study conducted by the University of Limerick. The purpose of the study was to ascertain the desirability of such a subject, its possible delivery format, potential content and the impact introducing it would have on the current programme at leaving certificate level. It is in this context that plans will be developed to [985] evaluate progress as regards computer literacy in schools.