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Sunday, 19 December, 1999, 01:35 GMT
Call to speed up pupils' net use

college computer room Colleges need faster net links, says the EC

The head of the European Commission is calling on member countries to accelerate the process of getting schools connected to the internet.

Romano Prodi says the aim is to "turn digital literacy in to a basic competence for all young Europeans".

EU states are already committed to having all their schools online by 2002.

Mr Prodi said he wanted to see children mastering the internet and multimedia resources, using these to learn new skills, and acquiring skills such as collaborative working and "intercultural communication and problem-solving".

romano prodi Romano Prodi: Wants faster action
"Education is a crucial factor determining economic and social progress and equality of opportunity in our societies," he said.

"It becomes even more vital in the digital age to ensure lifelong learning and the emergence of new generations of creators, researchers, entrepreneurs and to empower all citizens to play an active role in the information society.

"Achieving this starts at school."

One aspect that needs to change is in telecommunications, with a more open business structure and faster academic networks.

The commission says the benefits of greater competition are still unevenly spread among member states and pan-European services are still underdeveloped, partly as a result of "fairly different and sometimes excessive" licensing conditions and procedures.

The aim is for the various countries' educational systems to make it easy for pupils and teachers to fully benefit from new technologies.

This means not just the hardware but the way it is used - drawing on Europe's cultural and linguistic diversity.

The following targets have been set.

By the end of 2001:
  • All schools should have access to the internet and multimedia resources.
  • Support services, including web-based information and educational resources, should be made available to all teachers and pupils.
  • Access to internet and multimedia resources in public centres should be made available to all youngsters, including in less-favoured areas.
By the end of 2002:
  • All teachers should be individually equipped and skilled in the use of internet and multimedia resources.
  • All pupils should have access to high-speed internet and multimedia resources in their classroom.
By the end of 2003:
  • All pupils should be "digitally literate" by the time they leave school.
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See also:
16 Dec 99 |  Education
Computers create 'children's underclass'
30 Sep 99 |  Education
Schools get wireless Net link
16 Nov 99 |  Features
Setting research papers free

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