Let's give an iPad to every child over five: Noonan
Finance Minister Michael Noonan has said every child must be given an iPad at the age of five to make Ireland a more tech-savvy country.
The minister said the Government would push to have computer tablets in every classroom to give children IT skills from an early age.
Mr Noonan indicated Fine Gael's General Election manifesto would include commitments in this area.
But the use of tablets by young children is hugely contentious, with research on its benefits in the education system quite mixed.
Speaking at a Fine Gael fundraiser, the minister said "very strong innovation" was the "X factor" that Ireland needs to ensure the economic recovery continues.
"We must use the schools to drive it and we must use new ways of managing people," he said.
"You need to organise people in a way they are working in teams to combine the innovative efforts of individuals to do something dramatic," he added.
In a wide-ranging, after-dinner speech, Mr Noonan said Ireland could become a country "that is well in advance of its competitors" if the innovative energy of its citizens can be properly harnessed.
"We certainly should have every child with an iPad at five years of age," he said.
Mr Noonan said he wanted to run the economy the same way his "good friend" Wolfgang Shaeuble manages Germany's.
Tablet computers have been shown to help kids struggling with literacy problems because of the range of specialist education apps available.
On the other hand, studies have also suggested that tablets change the dynamic between children and teachers and a decreasing verbal and physical interaction between parent and child.