ALMOST one in three Irish 15-year-olds have never used a computer in school -- more than double the average in the developed world.
New figures obtained by the Irish Independent reveals our students continue to lag behind the international average on computer use in schools.
The report by the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) covering 57 countries reveals a "significant" 30pc of Irish students reported never using computers in schools, well below the OECD average of 13pc.
The data, gathered under the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), found 48pc of Irish 15-year-olds reported using a computer at home almost every day, almost double the 26pc rate reported in 2003. However, the figure is below the OECD average of 70pc. Irish students were on a par with their international counterparts when it came to reporting never using computers at home in 2006, at 7pc.
The rate of computer use in Irish schools doubled between 2003 and 2006, with 47pc of Irish 15-year-olds reporting using technology at least once or twice a week in 2006, compared with 24pc in 2003.
Despite that increase, Irish students will lag behind the OECD average, which rose from 43pc to 55pc in the same period, although the gap has narrowed significantly. It also found that the average self-confidence in high-level computer tasks among Irish students was lower than the OECD average.
On average, males in the OECD scored higher on the confidence scale than females, although there was no overall gender difference in Ireland.
Irish female students were more self-confident about using a word processor without help and creating a presentation, such as PowerPoint, while males were more confident of success with multi-media presentations and also in their ability to use anti-virus software.
The 2006 survey involved 164 schools and 4,585 students in Ireland. In each school, the principal completed a questionnaire while students were tested in science, maths and reading, and completed a questionnaire about computer usage and competence in various information and communications technology-related (ICT) tasks.
A 2006 EU survey on ICT in schools concluded that Ireland ranked 19th out of 25 -- with only 30pc of teachers being 'ICT-ready' -- and blamed insufficient ICT equipment and access to the internet in schools.