Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education Thomas Byrne has called on the Minister for Education to urgently act following the publication of a report on the use of ICT in education.

His call comes as research published by academics from the University of Limerick and the ESRI found that the approach to digital technologies in the classroom has been lacking, leading to delays in benefits in classrooms.

Deputy Byrne said, “This latest research shows us just how far we have yet to go in preparing our classrooms for the realities of the digital age in which we live.

“The response to date by this Government has not met the needs of schools, parents or teachers in providing clear guidance. Instead, we have a situation where individual schools and teachers are operating in a vacuum. While many of these schools are adapting and handling these challenges well, it is an unfair position to put schools, parents and children in.

“There is a growing understanding that the use of digital technology by young people needs careful consideration. From screen time to fake news to cyberbullying and access to pornography, a full and frank conversation is needed.

“Fundamentally, however, we must not rush head first into a new way of teaching without proper research, training and resources. The needs of the system must never override the needs of our children.

“The current digital strategy for schools finishes next year and a new strategy is expected. However, it is now almost 13 years since the popularisation of the smartphone. It is time we moved beyond a digital wild west, – our children can wait no longer” concluded Deputy Byrne.