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Drive for technological literacy;Briefing

Irish Republic

A NEW grants scheme for Irish schools forms part of a pound;21million technology programme announced last week by education minister Miche l Martin, who wants to ensure that all pupils can use computers.

Under the new system all 4,000 primary and secondary schools will get grants over the next two months to purchase computers themselves, rather than receiving centrally-purchased computers from the Department of Education and Science.

The grants are the first phase of a three-year programme that will see the installation of 60,000 multimedia computers in schools - one for every 15 pupils. In many cases the ratio will be lower as many schools already have computers.

This year pound;2.6m is being spent on training at least 8,000 of the country's 40,000 teachers in using new technology. The training will be co-ordinated by a new National Centre for Technology in Education. Full-time information technology advisers will be appointed to 10 education centres around Ireland.

The funding will be weighted towards schools helping children with special needs. All schools will receive a basic grant of pound;1,700 plus pound;5 per pupil, but those with special needs classes will get an extra pound;1,300 and pound;17 per pupil. Special schools will get pound;2,600 plus pound;17 per pupil.

John Walshe

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