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High-speed internet urged for primary schools

Communications Minister Eamon Ryan was today urged to extend high-speed broadband to all primary schools after he unveiled a €13m scheme for second level pupils.

Speeds of 100 megabits per second will be available initially in 78 secondary schools.

It will be extended to all post-primary schools nationwide in the next two years - making Ireland one of the first countries to roll out such a programme.

Mr Ryan said the jobs of the future would require children to be competent in using computers.

"Broadband of this capacity and quality will allow them to see and learn things in school that my generation could have only dreamed of," Mr Ryan said.

"We are changing the day-to-day classroom experience."

Over the last year, fibre-optic and wireless networks were installed in the 78 schools - at least one in every county.

These networks will allow for speeds of 100 megabits per second, which the Department of Communications said are similar to those on offer to multinational corporations based here.

More than 1,500 wireless digital projectors and 2,000 laptops have also been distributed.

But Fine Gael's Communications spokesman Leo Varadkar warned Mr Ryan not to forget about the 3,300 primary schools.

He challenged the minister to at the very least provide all primary schools with broadband speeds of 10MB per second or faster before the end of 2011.

"Children spend eight years in primary school and start using information technology for the first time during these years," Mr Ryan said.

"Our children should not have to wait until they are in their teens before they have access to high-speed internet in their schools."

At St Colmcille's Community School in Knocklyon, Dublin, children carried out interactive science experiments for Mr Ryan, and took a virtual tour of the Louvre Museum in Paris.

"I believe the provision of 100 megabits broadband will transform education in Ireland and place our children at the forefront of the digital revolution," the minister added.

PA Media