‘School computerization lags behind developed nations'
Israeli schools only average one computer for every 13 children, ranking the
country only 49th in the world for number of children per PC in schools.
By JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH
Although Israelis of all ages love technology, this country is only in 49th place in the world in the number of children per PC in the schools; there is only one computer for every 13 kids, said Knesset Science & Technology Committee chairman MK Meir Sheetrit, who on Monday held a session on school computerization attend by academics, educators and high-tech companies.Sheetrit said the situation in the schools is “clearly not good.” The 49th spot is just above Turkey and Brazil and way behind the US, Ireland and even Jordan.“Israel is considered a hi-tech superpower, but at this rate, we won’t remain so for much longer,” he warned, adding that parents spend hundreds of shekels annually per pupil on buying schoolbooks, when an inexpensive laptop can be bought and used to download all the books from the Internet.Prof. Haim Harari, chairman of the board of the Davidson Educational Institute and former president of the Weizmann Institute of Science, said that “we’re living in a computerized world, and one shouldn’t have to beg in the Knesset for the purchase of computers for schools. Since 1993, we have been saying that every pupil needs a computer of his own rather than to practice in a computer lab.”Buying a new computer for each pupil once in three years constitutes only two or three percent of the annual education budget. He said he places his hopes on young teachers who grew up using a computer at home.According to Education Ministry science and technology administration director Dr. Ofer Rimon, the upcoming two-year budget will see the investment of a billion shekels for this purpose and adding NIS 12,000 more science teaching hours.The ministry will soon issue a directive to all curriculum developers that their work must be produced as a digital as well as printed product.AdvertisementThe non-profit Center for Educational Technology presented the committee with a project in which thousands of textbooks and other material will be put on the Web. This will help pupils – and teachers – expand their knowledge, said CET director Gila Ben Har, who predicted that parents will pay half the cost of a digital book and will be able to purchase a laptop in easy installments for their children.The state will work with hardware suppliers to cut prices for all, she said.Minister Michael Eitan, whose portfolio is state Internet services, said that there is no official standard for school computers.Sheetrit concluded with a call to the Education Ministry to set clear guidelines on school computers and called on Eitan to ensure that all schools are connected to the best broadband services.“Internet is our pupils’ tool to compete with the world,” he said.