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Friday, August 28, 1998 Published at 11:48 GMT 12:48 UK


Wiring Scotland's schools

Transforming the way education is delivered

Scottish schools have been given details of the government strategy to inter-connect them all in a 62m high-tech web which can be used in teaching and administration.

The plan is to link every school, college, university and library to the Internet by 2002.

The project also involves training teachers in how to use the new technology.

The details were given by the Scottish Education Minister, Helen Liddell, during a visit to Deans Community High School in Livingston, West Lothian. She linked up by video with the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, who was at Scalpay School in the Western Isles.

[ image: Helen Liddell:
Helen Liddell: "Scotland has moved closer to a knowledge-based economy"
Mrs Liddell said: "The National Grid for Learning will transform education in Scotland.

"Local projects like CREATIS in West Lothian and the network in the Western Isles are the elements which will link-up to form the National Grid.

"Modern technology means that geographical remoteness is no obstacle in terms of gaining access to the widest possible and most up-to-date information sources available.

"Scotland has today moved closer to the creation of a knowledge-based economy for the 21st century."

Development of the Grid's physical infrastructure is the responsibility of local authorities and schools who will be responsible for installing new computers, setting up networks within and between schools and arranging Internet connections.

The government's main targets or the next three years are:

  • ensuring that new teachers entering the profession are skilled at using information and communications technology.

  • training existing Scottish teachers in the use of that technology in all areas of the curriculum

  • connecting all schools, colleges, universities and public libraries to the Internet

  • ensuring that all teachers, lecturers, pupils and students have their own e-mail addresses

  • using the grid to cut down on the amount of administrative paper work sent from the Scottish Office Education Department.

The CREATIS Project is a scheme to provide schools, libraries and community centres in West Lothian with a high-capacity communications infrastructure which will support the delivery of high quality learning opportunities for the whole community. West Lothian Council's private sector partners are BT, Sun Microsystems, ICL, Xemplar and RM Learning Systems.

CREATIS will provide 200 computers for each secondary school, at least one for each primary, nursery and special school classroom and at least one for every library and community centre.

The Scottish Office says ethical use will be a prime consideration. In addition to strict rules and policies covering institutional and individual use, software will be used to prevent access to inappropriate material and to monitor use.

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