According to the data extracted from the Department of Education (DoE), it was reported than almost 60% of the primary schools in Ireland have internet connectivity and download speeds less than 30 Mbps.
The laws laid by the government under the National Broadband Plan mandates that all houses should have a minimum speed of 30 Mbps which can be considered ‘acceptable”. Naturally, all public schools should have a minimum of 30 Mbps download speed or even greater. But the situation is quite opposite to that.
The data of more than 3000 schools across the country was released under the Freedom of Information law. The Information Commissioner pressurized to release the data county-wise so that comparisons can be made. The results were quite contrasting.
Almost 9 out of 10 schools in Dublin have proper internet connectivity and download speeds greater than 30 Mbps while only one school out of ten in Roscommon has that kind of luxury.
Only four counties out of 26- Dublin (87%), Louth(52%), Wicklow (51%) and Kildare (50%) have 50% or more schools with download speeds greater than 30 Mbps. The bottom three on the list are Roscommon (10%), Leitrim (16%) and Longford (22%).
Poor internet connectivity hindering schools to make progress
The actual truth, if we dig more into this issue is that there are several schools that have complained about having very poor internet connectivity and speeds less than even 1 Mbps. Principals of other schools from various counties have often complained stating that their speeds never go above 2 or 4 Mbps.
It becomes difficult for the schools and teachers especially to prepare new content for the students. Tablets and smart classes including interactive whiteboards are there in classes but students can’t use them as the speed is often too low. Though, there are some schools in the Limerick City council that enjoy speeds up to 300 Mbps.
A representative of the DoE told that the department is working towards the issue but geographical locations are a barrier to a decent internet connection. However, school principals barely think that this issue will be rectified anytime soon. The government generally outsources these projects to private contractors which have failed over the years to get decent connections.
Now that the face of education has completely changed, it is necessary to have a reliable internet connection with decent speed. If not then everything goes completely waste and unutilized.
Earlier this year, Education Minister Joe McHugh has promised that the government will ensure that more than 700 schools will get an enhanced data connection but it looks like the reality is far away from the dreams.