ACS calls for new ICT education benchmark

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The Australian Computer Society is calling for a new standard, designed to raise the level of ICT skills in the community.

The Australian Computer Society (ACS) is caling for a new standard, designed to raise the level of ICT skills in the community.

The industry group has suggested creating a new national computer literacy standard across primary and secondary schools.

The standard –- to be based on a proposed two-year research project -– would determine a minimum level of computer literacy for the nation’s schoolchildren.

Increased governmental funding for more affordable broadband access, more PCs and software, and to guarantee regular technology upgrades, has also been called for.

According to ACS president, Edward Mandla, a greater level of ICT competence among students was needed to secure the future economic growth of the country.

“Even a 16 year old working in a lumber yard which has been taught ICT will be able to make a contribution,” he said. “They’ll want to streamline systems and network the business’ offices.”

Rather than a wish-list, the set of demands formed a consistent and a well thought-out checklist to remedy a shortage of skills, Mandla claimed.

“The Australian technology industry is in a mess and a small part of the solution to that is to have more education on ICT,” he said. “ICT is integrated in the office, and now in the home. The only place it’s not is schools.”

Seeking to remedy a shortage in skills amongst teachers, the ACS has also flagged a need for extra funds towards new professional development programs for teachers.

The establishment of a National Education Portal to provide educational content for teachers and students has also been suggested.

“We’re in a unique situation where a lot of students know more than their teachers when it comes to ICT,” Mandla said. “There’s a lost generation of teachers who will never learn ICT skills, but having a portal in place will go a long way to remedying that.”

The earliest the ACS would look to launch the new ICT standard was 2007, he said.

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