Brussels, 29 September 2006
Surfing the web as well as virtual communication and training methods are becoming more and more a daily experience in Europe’s school. A European Commission survey out today shows that most European schools now have the high-speed "broadband" internet connections they need to access speedily high-quality content. However, there are still important variations from one Member State to another.
"Europe is starting to reap the benefits of broadband at schools, where the foundations are laid for a knowledge-based society," said Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding. “I congratulate those EU countries which, on the basis of an efficient implementation of EU rules, have promoted competition in broadband services and infrastructures and thereby are now also generating encouraging results for their education systems. Broadband internet access can become one of the most efficient drivers for both economic and social competitiveness”.
Ján Figel’, Commissioner for Education, Culture and Multilingualism, added: “Digital competence is one of the eight key competences proposed by the Commission in a Recommendation last year, underlining the utmost importance of this issue for the modernisation of Europe’s educational and training systems. Following the results of this survey, the Commission urges those countries which are lagging behind to intensify their efforts in the interest of their young generations.”
The survey, published by the Commission today, shows that 96% of all schools in Europe have internet access today, and 67% already have a broadband connection. However, broadband take-up still varies widely in Europe, from about 90% of schools in Scandinavian countries, in the Netherlands, Estonia and Malta to under 35% in Greece, Poland, Cyprus, and Lithuania. In the US, 95% of public schools had a broadband connection in 2003.
In Europe, broadband connectivity in schools tends to follow national broadband penetration rates (see chart below). However, in Estonia, Malta, Slovenia and Spain the penetration of broadband in schools is already very much higher than the overall level achieved in these countries.
The survey found no major differences in internet connectivity between schools in less densely populated areas and those in urban areas. However, schools in densely populated areas are more likely to have broadband than those in less-densely populated ones. This is due to lack of broadband infrastructure rather than to lower tendency to use ICT (IP/06/340).
The number of pupils sharing computers connected to the internet ranges from 3.8-5.5 in Denmark, the UK and Luxembourg to about 19 in Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal and Greece, giving an EU average of 10 (to be compared with only 4 in the US – 2003 data).
Over 90% classroom teachers use computers or the internet to prepare lessons.
74% also use them as a teaching aid , although this again varies widely, from
the UK (96%) and Denmark (95%) to Greece (36%) and Latvia (35%). Over 80% think
that pupils are more motivated and attentive when computers and the internet are
used in class, and that they have significant learning benefits.
The main reason for not using ICT, as stated by about 50% of the
teachers not using them, is the lack of computers, followed by claims that a
subject does not lend itself to being taught with computers (24%). Technical
support and maintenance at schools needs to be upgraded, according to 75% of all
teachers. Less than half of the schools have a support or maintenance contract
with a service provider. However, in countries where ICT are more integrated
into teaching methods, most schools have a contract, the top scorer being the UK
89% followed by the Netherlands with 69%.