[appeared in Kyouiku Katei Shinbun June 2000]
In March 2000 the European Schoolnet
completed a survey of ICT in education policies around Europe
In this survey each country was asked to provide basic information about the bodies and agencies responsible for education and ICT policy management, the numbers of schools, teachers and students, pupil/PC ratios, and schools connected to the networks.
The countries also report on issues like general ICT policy, major networking initiatives, online educational content, ICT in teaching and the curriculum, teacher training, and links to important resources.
The answers differ in focus and detail, so in the following I would like to summarise some of the issues raised in general and also point to differences in the approaches taken.
As for hardware equipment, figures for pupil-PC-rations are not
available in all of the countries. They range from 2,6/1 in Danish
vocational schools to 30/1 in Italy. Even less figures are available
for networked schools. Luxembourg states that all secondary schools
are connected to the national backbone by a permanent line, and 40% of
the primary schools are connected through a dial-up connection. The UK
report talks about 80% of all schools to be connected by April
2000. In Finland over 90% of the schools were already connected to
networks in 1999.
As for ICT staff, only the UK reports that in over 95% of the schools an ICT coordinator with 2-4 non-teaching hours per week is in charge of ICT affairs.
Some of the countries state national goals for networking the schools: Germany wants to equip all schools, vocational training centres and advanced training facilities with multimedia PCs and Internet connections by 2001. The UK aims at connecting all schools, colleges, universities and libraries and as many communiy centres as possible until 2002. Portugal mentiones the connection of all primary schools and kindergartens within the current planning period of 2000-2006.
Teacher training is a major issue in all of the reports:
In the UK about 90% of the teachers received ICT related training during the last 2 years. 65% of the teachers report to feel confident using ICT in the classroom.
In Denmark about 20% of all teachers in primary and lower secondary education have signed up for a pedagogical ICT driver's license. In teacher training colleges approximately 50% take this course. In Finland a five week in-service training program related to information society issues has been taken by about 10,000 teachers between 1996 and 1999. Until 2004 50% of the teaching staff on all levels is expected to acquire good ICT skills.
In Sweden since 1996 a law requests basic ICT skills, including use in teaching, from all newly educated teachers.
Some countries provide special equipment for teachers:
In Luxembourg teachers get home access to the National Network for Education and Research, in Sweden those who complete a special training program receive a multimedia PC for use at home, and in the UK teachers can buy discouted PCs. In Germany AOL announced an initiative for free home access for teachers and reduced access for students.
But although effort is being put into teacher training, the actual use of ICT in daily teaching remains an aim for the future. Even in a country like Finland, where thanks to a good technological infrastructure and successful pilot projects in 1998 half of the teachers surveyed reported to use ICT for preparation of their lessons, only about 20% used ICT in their daily teaching.
Concerning curricula and educational goals the study reports:
In Denmark ICT has to be integrated in all subjects from grade 1 to 12 where relevant. In Finland the curricula also require that all pupils in comprehensive schools shall acquire basic ICT skills, integrated in a variety of subjects. Media literacy shall become part of general Finnish education by the year 2004. Luxembourg has a "PC-Driving-Licence" for all students at the secondary school entry level. In the UK the national curriculum for all pupils aged 5-16 includes ICT now (in secondary school as a special subject) and the aim is to give most school leavers a good understanding of ICT by 2002.
In some of the reports educational affairs are seen in a broader social context. E.g. the reports from Finland, Sweden and the UK especially stress the issue of equal access for all citizens and on all educational levels. Germany has special initiatives for women in IT. And Norway reports about its long term approach with close cooperation between the authorities and educational institutions.