Poor Broadband Putting Children’s Education at Risk in Rural East Cork

By Seamus Whelehan

Internet access in remote zone, power of technology concept. Road sign with wifi signal icon on rural environment, includes copy space.

Poor Broadband connections in rural parts of East Cork is hindering children’s ability to learn, the Labour’s Sean Sherlock has warned.
The Cork East deputy says pupils who grow up in rural communities are at a disadvantage, compared to their urban peers, as they are less able to access online learning resources.
A Department of Education survey has found that just 57% of schools nationally expect download speeds of less than 30MBps by the end of the school year 2018 – 2019.
The Government National Broadband Plan has a target of 30MBps download speed as an acceptable level of connectivity for home owners.
Deputy Sherlock says the Government must learn lessons and start providing for the 1,793 schools with slow internet access.
He said in East Cork the Broadband gap is hitting home for thousands of students in schools across Cobh, Midleton and Killeagh, with broadband speeds of less than 20MBps.
“It is an indictment of how little attention this Government is paying to physical infrastructure such as Broadband provision.” “Proper Broadband is key to learning and growth for all our school children no matter where they live.”
Over 3,140 East Cork pupils are suffering as a result of inadequate Broadband speeds, he has said.
“In an age where information is vital, speed of access to the web is a critical component of learning. Those 3,146 schoolchildren are practically offline, compared to their urban counterparts.”
“We need to ramp up investment and future proof these schools with the Broadband capabilities of today and tomorrow.”
Similar concerns were raised at the Cobh Municipality meeting on Monday.
Independent Cllr Sean O’Connor tabled a Motion to have all Broadband providers come before the Municipality next month.
In a statement, the Department of Education and Skills said the number of schools with access to download speeds of 30Mbps is continually increasing.
The Department was eager to point out that fewer than 100 Primary schools had fast internet access in 2012.
A spokesperson for the Department of Education and Skills said the Department’s ability to provide sufficient capacity Broadband is based geographical location and local infrastructure.
“When the requisite infrastructure is provided through the NPB, the Department will be in a position to provide high speed Broadband to those schools, as envisaged under the National Broadband Plan” he added.