IT skills shouldn't be just be available to 'lucky few', says EC

European schools need more support in providing ICT education, with investment in teacher training required to boost digital skill levels.

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European schools need more support in providing ICT education, with investment in teacher training required to boost digital skill levels.

A survey conducted by the European Commission into the use of digital technologies in schools across 27 countries has shown that although there has been a growth in access to equipment, more needs to be done to ensure that all teachers and students have access, and not just a “lucky few”.

One in four nine year olds were found to have access to fast broadband connections of over 10 mbps and access to a local area network and virtual learning environment, as well as email and web access for students and teachers.  

Half of 16 year olds had access to these tools, with a fifth of students at secondary school level having never used a computer as part of a lesson.

The survey showed that most teachers are confident about the use of digital tools in teaching, but also found that training in ICT is rarely compulsory, meaning that most teachers have to learn new skills in their own time.

Following the survey, the EC recognised the need for more investment in the teaching of skills, including rewards for teachers using ICT in the classroom, and not just in terms of investment in infrastructure, in order to ensure equal access to all students.

Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda, commented: "ICT skills and training must be available to all students and teachers, not just a lucky few. We want our young people exposed to ICTs in school from the very beginning, and we want teachers who are confident to share their knowledge".

There have been moves to improve IT skills in the UK, with the introduction of a computer sciences course to the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) alongside traditional science skills. Google has also pledged to hand out thousands of RaspberryPi devices to help ingnite interest among schoolchildren.

However a recent report by the Corporate IT Forum’s Education & Skills Commission said that education in IT is in “disarray”, and warned over impact on access to skilled staff by employers.

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